Another Bad Employment Law Decision

June 09, 2011 | Joe Elford


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an 8-1 decision, a third state supreme court -- in this case, the Washington Supreme Court -- issued a negative decision regarding the employment rights of medical marijuana patients.  In Jane Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management, LLC, the Washington Supreme Court held that Washington's Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA) does not provide any civil remedy to a medical patient who is terminated from employment because of testing positive for the off-site use of marijuana.

Following in the footsteps of the California Supreme Court's decision in Ross v. Ragingwire, the court held that Washington's MUMA provides a defense only to criminal sanctions, and does not afford any civil protection against discrimination by private employers.  But, as the dissent points out, MUMA expressly states that:
[a]ny person meeting the requirements appropriate to his or her status under [MUMA] shall be considered to have engaged in activities permitted under this chapter and shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.

Thus, "Roe seems to be exactly the sort of person the people intended to protect."

The dissent concludes by "urg[ing] the legislature to thoughtfully review and improve the act," which is precisely what Americans for Safe Access has been seeking to do in the State of California and will continue to do so in next year's legislative session.  Studies have shown that medical marijuana use does not impair workplace safety.  It is about time that courts recognize this and provide employment protection to medical marijuana patients, as the voters intended.
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