Can an employer fire you for taking a legal medicine on your own time that has no effect on your job performance?
If it is medical marijuana, they can.
Brandon Coats had an exemplary employment record, but was fired by Dish Networks because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He is disabled and confined to a wheelchair as a result of a car accident. He takes medical marijuana to help with his muscle spasms.
Dish Networks has a zero-tolerance drug policy.
The case will be heard by the Colorado Supreme Court this year.
Naturally, big business interest groups support the firing. The National Federation of Independent Business said “We would not tolerate any attempt to infringe on the employers’ right to a zero-tolerance drug policy.”
Even though Colorado has a Lawful Activities Statutes that prohibits firing for any off-duty lawful activity, a lower court upheld his firing.
Their reasoning, in a split decision, was that any activity that remains illegal under Federal law, cannot be considered lawful.
So in spite of the fact that Colorado has now legalized marijuana use for anyone, the Federal law is still a stumbling block to employee rights, according to the courts thus far.
Federal marijuana law is defined under the Controlled Substances Act. This is why the Rescheduling of marijuana out of Schedule I is critical.
Schedule I is reserved for substances that have no accepted medical use, and are highly addictive. Both are patently not true for marijuana, yet the Feds have been hesitant to fix this problem.
Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is again leading the charge to get marijuana removed from Schedule I.
Fixing the Federal Controlled Substances act will free the states from fears of a Federal crackdown over any marijuana reform, legalization, decriminalization, or medical research.
And it will give the courts no reason to continue the unfair employment discrimination for Brandon and countless patients everywhere.