The American Civil Liberties Union has helped a Michigan man file a wrongful termination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, who fired him for using marijuana, even though the drug had been prescribed by his doctor. The ACLU says that fourteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia protect medical marijuana patients who are using the drug on a doctor’s orders.
Despite this, several state courts across the country, including courts in California, have said that employers do not need to accommodate workers who are medical marijuana patients. Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana in 2008, as California did over a decade ago. Despite many states’ legalization of medical marijuana, its use is still illegal under federal law, which makes it a legal gray area.
The former worker suing Wal-Mart, Joseph Casias, was prescribed the drug for pain caused by an inoperable brain tumor and sinus cancer. He had been working for Wal-Mart for five years and rose from a grocery stocker to an inventory control manager. The married father of two was also named his store’s associate of the year in 2008.
Casias was terminated after he failed a drug test Wal-Mart asked him to take after he injured his knee on the job. Wal-Mart says that it requires all employees to take drug tests after suffering on-the-job injuries. Attorneys for the world’s largest retailer say the company is sympathetic to their former employee’s situation, but that it must think of his safety and the safety of its customers.
UPDATE 1-Wal-Mart worker, fired for legal pot smoking, sues (Reuters)