The legalization of medical marijuana varies greatly by state, which can often be confusing for employers with drug testing policies. All companies must abide by state laws when implementing drug testing policies or risk potential lawsuits. A recent lawsuit example involving a major retail chain in Arizona has proved just how important it is to know your state laws to protect your company.
U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg ruled that a major retail chain in Arizona violated the non-discrimination provision in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act when they terminated an employee for a marijuana-positive drug test even though they couldn’t prove that they were impaired by using the drug while at work. The employee had a valid medical marijuana card and presented it prior to being administered the drug test, which was given as a post-accident. The employee continued to work until she was suspended and later fired due to the urinalysis results.
The employee, who uses medical marijuana to treat arthritis pain, sued the major retail chain for termination and discrimination. The major retail chain denied any accusations of wrongful termination in court and argued that they were protected under Arizona’s Drug Testing of Employees Act. However, the judge wrote in his ruling that the company was, “unable to prove that Plaintiff’s drug screen gave it a ‘good faith basis’ to believe Plaintiff was impaired at work.”
Since medical marijuana laws differ by state, many companies are perplexed as to how they should establish their drug testing policies. For Arizona, it’s advised that employers do not terminate employees based solely on a marijuana-positive drug test if they possess a valid medical marijuana card. DISA Global Solutions recommends employers implement the following to better protect your company:
It’s important that your employees thoroughly understand the company policies and inform them of any new laws or provisions.
Managers should be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of drug use, how to professionally approach and handle the situation, and determine whether or not to test.
This policy would require employees to disclose any doctor prescribed drug (marijuana or opioids) that may impair them at work prior to taking them.
Documenting behaviors or actions that can lead to reasonable suspicion will help to support your claim in the event of a termination.
Taking these steps will protect your company and employees when establishing and implementing a drug testing policy. DISA offers professional assistance when creating your drug testing policies to help you maintain safety in the workplace. Our variety of drug testing solutions can be customized to meet and maintain compliance standards across all industries and abide by state laws.
For more than 30 years, DISA has been a provider of workplace safety and compliance services. DISA helps companies make more informed staffing decisions by offering a broad array of industry-leading methodologies to make employee screening faster and more accurate. For more information about DISA call 1-800-752-6432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.