Medical Marijuana in the Workplace
By Scaringi Law Attorney Jennifer Ruth
Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that there is a private right of action under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act for employees who are discriminated against by their employers because they use medical marijuana. A U.S. District Judge denied the defendant/employer's motion to dismiss the plaintiff/employee's claims for violations of the Medical Marijuana Act. In doing so, this judge is the second judge in Pennsylvania to uphold the right of a medical marijuana user to bring a cause of action against his employer for discrimination under the act.
This decision suggests that medical marijuana users can be considered a protected class entitled to pursue discrimination claims for employment actions they believe are linked to their health and/or disability.
A provision of the Medical Marijuana Act prohibits discrimination solely because an individual is certified to use medical marijuana. Further, it only expressly condones discipline for an employee’s medical marijuana use when that employee is under the influence at work and performing below a certain standard of care for their job. This suggests that an employer does have the ability to discipline an employee for medical marijuana use at work on the premises unless it negatively affects their job performance. And that off-duty use might be permitted under the Act provided that an employee does not report to work under the influence and fail to meet performance standards.
If you are a certified medical marijuana user and you have been terminated by your employer for testing positive for THC during drug testing, contact Scaringi Law at 717-657-7770 for a consultation.