An employer may terminate an employee for his or her off-the-job marijuana use, even if the employee is authorized under state law to use cannabis medicinally, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled last week.
Off-the-job medical marijuana use does not bar firing: Wash. high court
The ruling stemmed from the case of a woman who suffered from migraines that caused chronic pain, nausea, blurred vision and sensitivity to light, according to court documents. She said conventional medications did not provide relief.
In June 2006, a doctor provided her a document authorizing marijuana possession for medical purposes, and about four months later TeleTech offered her a customer service job contingent on the results of a drug screening test.
The employer learned of her drug test results about the same time the plaintiff began training for the job and terminated her. The company’s drug-use policy does not make an exception for medical marijuana use, court records show.
… On appeal to the Washington Supreme Court, the woman argued that because the medical marijuana law explicitly does not require employers to accommodate pot use “in any place of employment,” it implicitly requires accommodation for use outside the workplace.
But eight justices agreed with lower courts and found that MUMA broadly protects a personal decision to use medical marijuana, but does not address impediments to doing so, such as an employer’s drug policy.
The case is Roe v. Teletech Customer Care Management LLC. The majority’s argument essentially comes down to this: “Washington courts have recognized that MUMA’s purpose is to protect the rights of qualifying patients to use medical marijuana in accordance with the advice and supervision of their physicians. … Washington court decisions do not recognize a broad public policy that would remove any impediment to medical marijuana use or impose an employer accommodation obligation.” You can read the Court’s decision here.