The current climate surrounding the use of medical marijuana varies significantly on a state-by-state basis and continues to evolve. As a newer legal issue, there still exist many situations that have not yet been determined from a legal perspective.
Medical Marijuana and Discrimination on the Basis of Disability Accommodation
Under a recent case concerning disability discrimination for a forklift driver, who was banned from continuing work due to his use of medical marijuana, a NJ federal court found that it is not discriminatory for an employer to refuse to waive its requirement of a mandatory drug test.
The case looked at whether the employer was discriminating on the basis of not accommodating the employee’s disability, and necessary use of medical marijuana by waiving the mandatory test – not on the basis of using medical marijuana itself.
The employee sued his employer under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) after being banned from returning to work unless he submitted to the company’s mandatory drug test, which would require a Breathalyzer and urine screening.
The employee had been a forklift operator since February 2011, and had told the company at the time of his hiring that he was taking Percocet, Gabapentin, and using medical marijuana for a previous work injury he had sustained in 2007.
NJ Federal Court Finds For the Employer
The U.S. District Court judge in Camden found that New Jersey law does not require private employers to waive mandatory drug tests, should they so choose to require them. Although the Medical Marijuana Act makes it so that qualifying users of medical marijuana cannot be found guilty of a criminal act, most state courts have found that this does not shield these users from adverse employment actions on the same basis, unless state statute has expressly stated otherwise.
New Jersey Remains an “At Will” State
Due to the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, employers are not required to accept the fact that an individual uses medical marijuana by waiving its mandatory drug test.
The judge quoted the law, which states that it does not “require … an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.” Because of this, the employer is within its rights to refuse to waive its mandatory drug test.
Additionally, New Jersey is an at-will state. This means that employers are allowed to terminate their contract with an employee under any reason, whether good, bad, or even no discernable reason at all.
This does not, however, protect employers from harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, or other violations of state and federal regulations.
Cherry Hill Employment Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Help Workers Who Are Discriminated Against
If you believe that you have you have been discriminated against in your place of work, it is in your best interest to seek a lawyer who understands the many laws surrounding employment discrimination, and has the experience to be able to help fight for your rights. Contact a Cherry Hill employment discrimination lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. for help.
For a free consultation, call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.