Medical Marijuana Users Face Adverse Employment Action Despite Legality

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) requires New Jersey employers to provide reasonable accommodations to certain disabled employees. However, a federal court recently concluded that employers need not waive their requirements that employees test negative for marijuana even if it is prescribed for medical reasons.

In Cotto v. Ardagh Glass Packing, Inc., an employer required an employee injured on the job to pass a drug test as a condition to returning to work. The employee advised his employer that he would not pass the test because he had taken several prescription drugs, including medical marijuana. The employer advised that it would not permit him to return to work unless he tested negative for marijuana and therefore the employee would remain indefinitely suspended until he did so. The employee filed suit under the LAD and maintained that his employer had discriminated against him by, among other things, failing to accommodate his medical marijuana use by waiving the requirement that he test negative for the drug.

The court rejected this broad interpretation of the LAD noting that although New Jersey law permits the use of medical marijuana, federal law continues to prohibit the use of marijuana for any reason. To that end, the court concluded that there was no authority that required an employer to waive its drug test requirements to accommodate an employee who uses marijuana for medical purposes.

Employees who use marijuana for medical purposes and are required to pass drug tests in connection with their employment should consult their medical providers to determine alternate treatments. Otherwise they could be facing adverse employment actions such as suspension or termination and have no recourse.

Please contact the Law Offices of Damian Christian Shammas, LLC to discuss your situation.