Walmart Employee Fired for Using Medical Marijuana Sues for Wrongful Termination
July 2, 2010
In recent news that our Riverside, California Employment Attorneys have been following, a former employee is suing Walmart for wrongful termination, after he was fired for testing positive for marijuana--a drug he was using legally for medical use.
Joseph Casias, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), reportedly sued Walmart last week, for wrongful termination, after a mandatory drug test found marijuana in his system. According to the complaint, Walmart policy states that employees are tested for drugs when injured on the job, and after Casias injured his knee at work, he was required to take the test.
Casias, 29, was a five-year Walmart employee and recipient of the 2008 "associate of the year" award in the Battle Creek, Michigan store. He has reportedly been suffering from sinus cancer for 13 years, as well as an inoperable brain tumor that presses against his skull. After a law was passed in Michigan in 2008 approving the drug for medical use, his oncologist prescribed medical marijuana to Casias. In the complaint, Casias claims that marijuana has had a "life-changing positive effect," on him, and that he uses it to alleviate the excruciating pain that his tumor and cancer cause.
Casias has a legal prescription for medical marijuana from his doctor, and even has a state-sanctioned card stating that he can legally use the drug. He claims that he never worked at Walmart under the influence of medical marijuana, and also never asked for any accommodation from the company for his illness.
Michigan is an at-will employment state, and employers can fire workers for any reason unless it is a federally protected category like gender, race or religion. The ACLU argues that legal medical marijuana users should also be included in this federally protected category of workers. According to James McCurtis, who oversees the medical marijuana program for Michigan's Department of Community Health, you can't engage in discrimination against a person if they have a medical marijuana card and use it for medicinal purposes.
In the complaint Casias would like to be rehired as a Walmart employee, and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Our attorneys at Howard Law, PC are committed to representing individuals who have experienced discrimination, wrongful termination, and other violations of California Labor Codes in Los Angeles County, Orange County and throughout Southern California. Contact our Anaheim-based Labor & Employment Attorneys today, for a free consultation about your rights.
Walmart Fires Employee for Using Medical Marijuana in Michigan, Worker and ACLU Sue Retailer, The New York Daily News, July 2, 2010
Medical Marijuana Patient Sues Walmart, NPR, June 29, 2010
Wal-Mart Worker Fired Over Medical Marijuana, MSNBC, March 17, 2010
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