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Worker Sues After Termination for Legal Marijuana Use


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A newly hired employee of a Washington company failed her initial drug test because of her use of medical marijuana recommended and prescribed by a physician. The company fired her for drug use and she sued.

What happened. TeleTech is an outsourcing company that provides office services to other businesses. It has a contract with Sprint Nextel to provide workers for telemarketing and telesales at Sprint's customer service center in Bremerton. TeleTech has a drug-free workplace policy, and Sprint requires TeleTech to screen all applicants for drugs before assigning them to work in Bremerton.

"Jane" suffered from migraine headaches. In June 2006, her doctor authorized the use of marijuana as treatment for her migraines. On October 3, 2006, TeleTech conditionally offered Jane a job at the Bremerton facility. As part of the hiring process, it gave Jane the applicant drug policy, which stated that all applicants were required to submit to a pre-employment drug test and receive a negative result in order to receive employment.

Jane told TeleTech that she used medical marijuana at home and that she had medical authorization for the drug. Jane took her drug test on October 5. She started work on October 10, the same day that her test results came back positive for marijuana. TeleTech's managers inquired into the situation, and received word back from headquarters: TeleTech would not make an exception to its drug policies for medical marijuana use. Accordingly, the company terminated Jane on October 18.

In February 2007 Jane sued TeleTech for wrongful termination and violation of the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA), (WA Rev. Code Sec. 69.51A). A county superior court dismissed the case in February 2008, and Jane appealed.

What the court said. The citizens of Washington enacted MUMA in 1998. This law provides that patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses whose doctors prescribe marijuana for their conditions will not be held guilty of a crime. The question before the court was whether the people of Washington intended MUMA to create employment protections that would require employers to employ people who use medical marijuana outside the workplace, which would effectively prevent employers from enforcing drug-free workplace policies.

Jane first argued that the trial court should not have dismissed the case because MUMA implied that she had the right to sue her employer for wrongful termination based solely on her legal at-home use of marijuana. TeleTech countered that the law did not create that right, but only provided a defense against state criminal prosecution for the possession of marijuana.

The Court of Appeals agreed with TeleTech. The language of MUMA's preamble states that qualifying patients "shall not be found guilty of a crime under state law for their possession and limited use of marijuana," and that physicians are "excepted from liability and prosecution for the authorization of marijuana use to qualifying patients." The court found that the average voter would understand from that language that the law was concerned with one thing: criminal prosecutions for the prescription or use of marijuana to treat terminal or disabling illness. The court noted that this interpretation may cause conflicts between individuals who use medical marijuana and employer drug policies, but the language of the law does not give any reason to assume that it was meant to address hiring practices or prevent employers from maintaining drug-free workplaces.

The court also observed that Jane was an employee at-will, which meant that TeleTech could terminate her at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Her arguments about MUMA did not prove that TeleTech had done anything illegal in terminating her. The court upheld the lower court's dismissal of the case. Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management, Court of Appeals of Washington, No. 38531-7-II (9/15/09).

Point to remember: Though there may appear to be a conflict between legalization of medical marijuana and drug-free workplace policies, for the moment, the drug-free workplace policies trump legal marijuana use.

News Hawk- Weedpipe 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: HR.BLR.com
Contact: Human resources management website - HR.BLR.com
Copyright: 2009 Business & Legal Reports, Inc.
Website:Worker Sues After Termination for Legal Marijuana Use


New Member
This story just makes me want to scream.

Do you feel helpless against the machine? Yes,I do.

These morons have a drug free policy? Why?

And where does it say that proof that you ever ingested drugs can be reason for dismissal? It is so frustrating that cannabis stays in your system for so long.

She could be a ****** addict or a prescription junkie and nobody would know.

And just because they have a policy shouldn't they have to prove that it effects your work? And what about my rights away from work? If I don't do drugs"AT WORK" then how can this be enforced without complicity from the courts?

This is truly why drugs need to be legal and considered a health issue and not a criminal or social problem. Too many rights are being trampled.

This company is so disgusting that she is probably lucky she doesn't work for them anyway, but that doesn't make it right.


New Member
We need to tie medical marijuana with medical HIPPA laws (privacy laws). I am sure if someone divulged to a perspective employer that they were taking a legally prescribed narcotic before a drug test that HIPPA laws would protect that individual. We need language like that.
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