Fired Article


Can an employer fire me for having a medical marijuana card?

As an attorney practicing in the nascent field of Medical Cannabis law, one of the most common questions I get from medical marijuana patients is whether they can be fired by their employer simply for having a Medical Marijuana Card.

The short answer is No.  The long answer is much more complicated.
Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (the “AMMA”) is one of the most unique in the nation.  It was the first law to explicitly provide statutory protection against employment discrimination for one’s status as a MMJ cardholder.  The law states unambiguously:

B. Unless a failure to do so would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations, an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or imposing any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person based upon either:

1. The person's status as a cardholder.
2. A registered qualifying patient's positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.

A.R.S. § 36-2813   

Sounds simple, employers can’t discriminate, right?  Well in practice it is much more difficult than that.  First the law exempts employers who would lose federal money or a federal license if they allow an employee to be a medical marijuana patient.  However, what exactly this means in practice is undetermined.  What about a long-term care facility that accepts Medicare dollars?  Further the Arizona legislature in 2011 passed House Bill 2541 which allowed employers to refuse to place any employee who uses medical marijuana in a safety sensitive position.  Safety-sensitive jobs are defined as "any job that requires duties or tasks that could affect the safety or health of the employee performing the task or others."  This broad definition can be interpreted wildly differently by various employers.  For example, it almost certainly covers a driver or crane operator, but what about a teacher or a pharmacist?  These are all issues that must be resolved over time by the courts.

However, event getting to court on these issues is a challenge in and of itself.  Generally speaking most employee drug screens happen after the job offer but before actual employment.  Combine this with AZ’s at-will employment status and it becomes extremely difficult to prove that someone was not hired because of the MMJ card (and not some other reason), and even more difficult to prove that they have incurred actual monetary damages that can be awarded by court.  More often than not the costs of pursuing these lawsuits are prohibitive based on the potential for monetary recovery.
However the threat of a lawsuit is often enough to get someone their job back so if you feel you have been discriminated against because you are an MMJ cardholder please reach out to a lawyer to discuss your rights.
  
Contributing Attorney Writer: Ryan Hurley is a partner, chair of Rose Law Group’s Medical Marijuana practice group and head of the Renewable Energy Policy and Research Department at Rose Law Group.

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • Can my boss fire me for not sighing a contract and if he does can I collect unemployment
  • can an employer fire you verbaly while on workmans comp and withhold the incident reports?
  • I was employed by a Cruise Line located in Hawaii but I reside permanently in Arizona. I was wrongfull terminated by the company for supposed theft of alcohol during an event. There is no emerical proof of me doing this on video footage. I originally was a union member but as I was promoted to an officer on-board, my position changed to non-union. How can I go about fighting the accusations and being compensated for my travel exspensed home, defamation of character, and the loss of my job?
  • I got fired at a private school for sending the parents an e-mail that was riddled with grammar errors. To be honest, I did write it in a hurry and I didn't proofread it. There is nothing offensive. I did nothing offensive during my time at the school. But that e-mail did spark fury with the parents who thought I'm not good enough to teach their children despite my credentials. I feel the principal didn't support me and fired me on the spot. My friends suggested that I should seek a lawyer to sue the school, but I have my doubts. Should I seek a lawyer for this?
  • I was recently let go from my job of 5 yrs. for testing positive on a random drug n alcohol test. I dont drink and the test showed the levels of scoop mouthwash alcohol content not what was in my body. I told my manger but he let me go anyway. How can I show that it was a false reading? I am allergic to alcohol.
  • My former employer is verbally abusive on a daily basis and creates an extremely hostile workplace. After tolerating this for 6 months, I finally gave him my 2 week notice. He proceeded to say 'No, I'll end this right here' asked me for my key and walked me out. I then filed for unemployment, which has since been denied. I'm sure he said I quit, which is not the case. This person also made advances to my 16 ear old daughter when she was at work with me over the summer. Do I have a claim? I'm having a hard time getting a response from local attorney's.
  • I need to know if I could be fired over the phone?
  • I was unjustly terminated for calling the employee hotline and filing a complaint. Now they are trying to lie and say I quit. Unemployment found in my favor. Do I have a case and is there a lawyer in Tucson who will take my case and work with no money unless I win?
  • I left a job to work with another dentist for a better opportunity this dentist offer me what i was looking for plus training since I didnt know the program he works with.to my surprise his office manager never gave me training or allow me to use the computer all i did was sit there. after 2 weeks he waited 30min before i had to at work to call me and tell me it wasnt working. now i'm left with out a job what are my rights?? their is something I can do. I live in arizona. he even wanted me to leave my pervious job a week early to work for him and he did this. please give me a good advise
  • When is it NOT LEGAL to terminate an employee; i.e., what are the grounds for termination of employment that the law prohibits?

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