Nj transit sued for disciplining employee in medical marijuana program
A case in New Jersey involving a man’s use of medical marijuana and his job’s decision to make him enroll in drug rehab is one of, if not the first of its kind in the state. As marijuana reform slowly makes its way around the country, these types of cases will likely become more common place.
Charlie Davis was prescribed medical marijuana to treat his end-stage renal failure. After failing a drug test for NJ Transit, he was suspended and told that he could not work for the company until completing a drug rehab program. He is now suing.
His story came to light in December when Davis was relieved of his duties as a procurement clerk by a senior member in the organization, according to the lawsuit. Davis then applied for an available field position as a block operator. This position required a physical examination, which included a drug test.
According to the suit, Davis told the NJ Transit medical director that he used medical marijuana to treat the pain in his legs and to help him sleep. Davis allegedly offered to apply for a non-safety position, if his use was a problem. The director told Davis that he had no choice but to take the test and that failure would mean drug rehabilitation. Quite obviously, Davis tested positive for marijuana and has been out of work since Dec. 28.
On one hand, NJ Transit has an obligation to put the safety of its customers first. John Durso, a spokesman for NJ Transit, said the company was acting in accordance with the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration guidelines, and that required drug testing programs were intended to ensure the safety of passengers.
On the other hand, it seems as though Davis did nothing wrong. According to the suit, he did not use marijuana at the job and did not come to work high. Even further, if he was prescribed the drug by his doctor to treat his pain, it would seem that he was within his legal right to use it.
This is a case of an employee’s right to use medical marijuana versus an employer’s right to impose drug testing requirements. In recent history, courts in other states have sided with employers. Most recently, in 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, sided with Walmart after the company fired a worker using medical marijuana to treat cancer.
The attorneys at Team Law are industry leaders in employment law and litigation. If you’ve been wronged by your employer, you may have recourse. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Call 1-800-Team-Law.