A federal district court has ruled that a nursing home violated the anti-discriminatory act when it rescinded a job offer to a job seeker who declared that she consumes medical cannabis off-duty and tested positive for THC in a pre-employment drugs test. Medical cannabis is legal in Connecticut where the plaintiff lives and sought to be employed by the nursing home.
The case was filed by the plaintiff last year and judgment was delivered last month, more than a year later. The defendant had tried to get the case dismissed arguing that federal laws allowed them to deny users of a controlled substance employment.
However, the federal district court ruled that the defendant couldn’t cite the Controlled Substances Act since the laws of Connecticut granted protections to patients who had a qualifying condition and were consuming marijuana in accordance with the state laws.
The plaintiff’s request for legal fees and punitive damages was denied by the federal court since the Connecticut law (Palliative Use of Medical Marijuana or PUMA) under which she sued did not prescribe such remedies in its protections for patients on medical cannabis.
The ruling against Bride Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center comes at a time when courts had initially ruled against employees on matters of medical marijuana. It is the first time that a federal court is making a decision in favor of an employee.
Other state courts had made similar favorable rulings for employees against employers who took action against them for consuming medical marijuana.
The decision by the federal court isn’t binding on all the other courts, but one can be certain that this case will be a point of reference in any future litigation on similar matters.
In fact, Bride Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center can appeal against this decision in order to have it reversed.
The case law on medical marijuana is still scanty since so few states have decriminalized it while it remains illegal at the federal law.
It may therefore be premature for anyone to think that the legal tide is shifting in favor of employees. All the same, it is wise for employers to review their policies regarding marijuana testing as a precondition for employment since they may expose themselves to costly suits that may leave the reputation of the companies in question in tatters.
What can help all concerned is some form of middle ground to be reached between the states where marijuana is legal and the federal level where decriminalization hasn’t occurred as yet. This is certainly the wish of industry players like Earth Science Tech, Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) and FinCanna Capital Corp. (CSE: CALI) (OTCQB: FNNZF) who want to see a more uniform regulatory framework.
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