Great news: Legalized pot adds opportunities for lawsuits against employers

Great news: Legalized pot adds opportunities for lawsuits against employers
(Image via Fox News)

[Ed. – A longtime LU reader, Citizen KH, has described to us the difficulty many American job candidates in the oil industry now have in passing drug screenings.  This article tends to underscore the validity of his experience in that regard.  Legalizing pot comes with far more consequences than anyone really thought about.  Legalizing anything as stupid as marijuana, in a heavily regulated environment like the one we have today, is an invitation to one legal Catch-22 after another.]

Regardless of how you feel about marijuana, there are certain rules employees and employers need to follow when it comes to drugs in the workplace. If you make a mistake, you could find yourself in court. …

With 86 percent of Americans supporting medical marijuana, an overly restrictive policy may chase some of your workers to another employer. Marijuana, while still classified as a Schedule I drug without medical use, does have medical benefits, and a bipartisan bill to make medical marijuana legal on the federal level has been introduced in the Senate.

Until then, employers need to take steps to avoid becoming a target of an employee lawsuit (whether the employee would have a strong case or not). “There are four scenarios that play out in these types of lawsuits that I see over and over again,” [lawyer Todd] Wulffson says.

1. Innocent inquiry

The first scenario is when an employee or an applicant innocently asks the question “‘I just wanted to know, would you accommodate my use of medical marijuana?'” “That’s a loaded question because you have to accommodate the underlying disability of the medical condition,” Wulffson says. …

3. The future smoker

Wulffson says he’s currently representing three clients who are in this situation: The employee comes to you and says she’s suffering from anxiety or glaucoma and needs to deal with the symptoms. She tells you she’s about to go outside, walk 50 feet away from the building, smoke, and come back. “They’re telling you they’re going to do it, but they are not stoned right now, so you don’t have the right to fire them right now,” he says. “But, invariably, the manager says, ‘No, no, no, no. Go home, stay home, you’re fired.’ ”

Wulffson says you should not allow the employee to smoke while at work, but you can make allowances.  [Whatever that means. – Ed.]

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