August 06, 2020 Top Story

Medical Marijuana Discrimination Claim Survives Dismissal

Learn how the landscape of medical marijuana law is changing and its effect on the workplace

By Nhan T. Ho

Medical marijuana laws have been enacted in many jurisdictions. A decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed an employee to proceed with an employment-based discrimination claim following his termination for using medical marijuana. The decision illustrates the impact these new laws are having on employment relationships. ABA Section of Litigation leaders say employers and employees need to be aware of the changing landscape of medical marijuana laws and how they could affect the workplace.

The employee was terminated for his use of medical marijuana outside of work

The employee was terminated for his use of medical marijuana outside of work

Credit: twigymuleford | iStockphoto by Getty Images

The Wild Decision

In Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, an employee alleged that his employer violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by terminating him for his medical marijuana usage. The employee claimed that as part of his cancer treatment, he used medical marijuana as permitted by the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUA). The employer sought dismissal of the complaint based on a since-amended provision of CUA stating that nothing in the act required an employer to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace. The trial court agreed and dismissed the employee’s LAD claim.

On appeal, the trial court’s decision was reversed. The appellate court held that CUA did not immunize employers from complying with LAD obligations to employees who, because of their disabilities, need to use medical marijuana outside of work.

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