Can a Medical Marijuana Patient in NJ Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test?
The New Jersey Appeals Court ruled on March 27, 2019 that employees cannot be terminated for failing a drug test. Patients are protected by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Of course, if an employee is high while working, these protections do not come into play.
It is only the presence of Marijuana in an employees’ system which receives this protection. Other street drugs are not protected. Depending on a variety of factors, marijuana will stay in a person’s system for approximately 30 days.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, roughly 45,000 patients are currently registered in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. This program adds about 2,000 new participants every month.
Prior to the appellate court’s ruling, employers were authorized to terminate employees who use marijuana for medicinal purposes because of marijuana being illegal under federal law—notwithstanding the fact that medical marijuana is legal under New Jersey state law.
The court’s decision was based on a discrimination lawsuit filed by a man who had been diagnosed with cancer. The man was injured in a 2016 workplace accident which he did not cause and was fired after testing positive for marijuana in a drug test which followed the accident. Though he was not under the influence of marijuana when the accident occurred, the failure of his drug test led to his termination.
The discrimination lawsuit was struck down by the New Jersey Superior Court, which ruled that the law that created the medical marijuana program in 2010 does not protect employees enrolled in the program.
However, an appellate court judge wrote that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination compels employers to accommodate employees with disabilities. Furthermore, the court acknowledged that the man did not seek permission to use medical marijuana in the workplace.
The funeral home and its parent company filed for an appeal on April 15 & requested that the case be heard in the New Jersey Supreme Court. If the court doesn’t review the appellate court’s decision or if it upholds the previous ruling, then medical marijuana patients will be protected in the workplace.
If you are a medical marijuana patient, it is important that you understand what your rights are.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us. We are here to help.