Before Gary Ross was hired by Raging Wire Telecommunications Inc., he was honest about his off the job use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. He even provided Raging Wire a copy of his doctor’s note. Days after he started, Raging Wire fired him, citing his off site drug use.
Since the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 was passed, California employers have been confused about how the act applied to employment laws. In a 5 to 2 decision, the California Supreme Court finally provides clarity.
The Court concluded that the Compassionate Use Act gives gives medical marijuana users a defense against criminal prosecution in state court — but provides no additional rights under employment law.
After affirming that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law, majority author Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act “does not require employers to accommodate the use of illegal drugs”.
Justices Carlos Moreno and Joyce Kennard issued a joint opinion that concurred on some points but mostly dissented.
The bottom line is that this opinion by the California Supreme Court was very pro business and provided long overdue clarity for California employers. Here is Raging Wire’s Press Release about the decision.
If you have any questions about this or any other employment law issue, feel free to contact Richard Oppenheim. There is never a charge for an initial consultation.