Yet another ex-employee has won in court following losing their job due to their authorized possession and use of healthcare marijuana. It is a story that is repeating itself across the nation. So significantly so, in truth, that New York lawmakers want to ban most workplace THC tests the moment the state legalizes marijuana. This time, nonetheless, the story requires an Arizona Walmart that fired an employee in 2016 since she tested good for cannabis. But final week, an Arizona judge ruled that Walmart discriminated against the lady when it terminated her for her healthcare marijuana use. Importantly, the judge’s ruling sets a essential legal precedent for healthcare cannabis sufferers in Arizona.
Arizona Judge Guidelines That Drug Tests for THC Cannot Decide Impairment
Carol Whitmire is in her 50s. She worked at Walmart for eight years prior to her manager fired her. And for the final 5 years, Whitmire has been a registered healthcare cannabis patient in Arizona. Whitmire told the court that she applied healthcare cannabis to treat her chronic shoulder discomfort and arthritis and as a sleep help. She says she consumed cannabis prior to bed and under no circumstances brought her medication to function or showed up beneath the influence.
But on May possibly 21, 2016, Whitmire suffered an injury at work—at Walmart. A bag of ice fell on her wrist as she was arranging the bags in a cooler. The injury prompted an urgent care stop by. And beneath Walmart policy, such incidents call for drug testing any employee involved. Figuring out the policy, Whitmire contacted Walmart human sources. She told them about the incident, her injury, and her status as a registered healthcare cannabis patient.
Walmart suspended Whitmire anyway, on July four, 2016, following her urine sample tested good for cannabis metabolites. On July 22, Whitmire’s manager fired her. It would take Whitmire till March 2017 to place with each other a discrimination complaint against Walmart with the Equal Employment Chance Commission. The charge of discrimination also involved the Arizona Lawyer General’s Workplace. A lawsuit followed 3 months later. It alleged Walmart wrongfully terminated Whitmire and discriminated against her in violation of the Arizona Health-related Marijuana Act.
Final week, U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg ruled that Walmart was not justified in firing Whitmire since the company’s assumption that she was impaired at function due to the presence of cannabis metabolites in her urine is unjustifiable. In other words, the judge recognized that the presence of metabolized THC in a person’s physique is no indication of getting beneath the influence of cannabis’ psychoactive effects.
Important Arizona Court Ruling Upholds Patient Protections Below Arizona’s Health-related Marijuana Act
The ruling is not just a significant win for Whitmire. It also sets a vital legal precedent across Arizona. Whitmire’s lawyer Joshua Carden says Judge Teilborg’s choice is the initially of its sort in the state. “No court has officially decided whether or not a private proper-of-action exists beneath the Arizona Health-related Marijuana Act,” Carden mentioned. “So that was a significant element of the choice.”
Arizona’a Health-related Marijuana Act (AMMA) establishes protections for staff with healthcare cannabis cards. The law says it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in hiring or firing primarily based on a patient’s “positive drug test for marijuana elements or metabolites.” The only time the AMMA does not defend a patient is in the occasion that they possess or are impaired by cannabis at function or on-the-clock.
Walmart denied wrongfully terminating or discriminating against Whitmire. In court, the corporation mentioned its drug testing policy is legal beneath the Arizona Drug Testing of Staff Act (DTEA). But that point is irrelevant. The AMMA and the DTEA are not in conflict. The trouble for Walmart was that the corporation had no way to prove that Whitmire’s good drug test meant she was impaired at function.
Eventually, the judge’s choice will make it significantly simpler for healthcare cannabis sufferers who face termination or other workplace sanctions to challenge their employers in court.