DETROIT – Marijuana is becoming legal in many states around the country. It is still illegal on a federal level, however. Although many companies are relaxing their drug testing for marijuana, not all of them are.
Employers are free to fire anybody that is found to be under the influence of marijuana while at work. The same is true of being drunk on alcohol. However, the lines are blurred when dealing with after-work usage where it is legal in that jurisdiction.
In this article, we will go over what your rights are when it comes to using marijuana and your employment.
Medical marijuana use
Taking marijuana for medical reasons seems like it is exempt from employers’ ability to fire somebody. However, the fact that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level complicates things. There are some states, notably Massachusetts and Delaware, that have laws that explicitly forbid a company from firing an employee that uses medical marijuana on their off time.
There are some states that explicitly allow for the firing of an employee if they are drug tested and found to have marijuana in their system. This includes using medical marijuana.
In the event that you are fired, it makes sense to go to a lawyer that specializes in labor violations. There have been some court cases where the court has sided with the employers and found them in their right. Many lawyers like website don’t take any money up front so do a consultation to see about the chances of winning before committing.
Recreational marijuana use is less protected than medical marijuana. Although people are free to use marijuana in whichever way they want in many states, employers are freer to dictate to their employees whether they can. This includes using it in their free time away from work.
In fact, many states have given explicit allowances for employers to fire employees that test positive on a drug test for marijuana.
There is a difference between decriminalizing drug use, in this case, marijuana, and giving it broad protection under the law. It is far more difficult to win a case of being fired for using marijuana recreationally than it is for medical use.
There is an opportunity to win your case based on the way a drug test is administered. Or, if one is even administered at all. If an employee is fired for using marijuana on their off time but a drug test is not administered then this is likely to help your case.
Likewise when a drug test is not legally administered. In general, states have more allowances for a company to test applicants but are far stricter when it comes to hired employees. There are guidelines as to when and how a test is administered. Each state has its own laws regarding drug testing employees whereas there is more leeway on a federal level. An employer usually needs a reason to administer a test.
This column was provided by John Moran.