Sunday, February 13, 2011

Federal Judge confirms Walmart can fire legal marijuana users

Walmart has won a suit alleging they violated Michigan's Medical Marijuana law by firing a legal user under the act.

Photo: Impact Press/Rick Weaver

United States District Judge Robert Jonker ruled Friday that the state's new medical marijuana law may protect those using the drug from arrest, but it does not alleviate employers from their duty to ensure a safe workplace for employees and customers.

The ruling vindicates Walmart from responsibility for wrongful firing

One key factor is that Walmart discovered the drug use in a drug test prescribes by a company policy that is consistently enforced.

The discounter fired Joseph Casias from their Battle Creek store after Casias, who has an inoperable brain tumor, failed a drug test. Walmart contended they needed to foster a safe drug-free workplace and their policies existed to do so. Their attorneys contended that the medical marijuana law was not intended to regulate businesses.

Jonker agreed with Walmart saying the law is designed to provide “a potential defense to criminal prosecution or other adverse action by the state.”  However the act does not address employment law, according to Jonker.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Casias' attorneys, say they will appeal the decision.

Most human capital professionals in Michigan are anxious for resolution of this case, particularly due to its impact on how companies can use drug testing and ensure that employees in certain positions are drug free.


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