Big Marijuana Decision Coming Monday

COLORADO:  A highly anticipated Colorado Supreme Court decision on an employee’s right to use marijuana will come out Monday.

Brandon Coats maintains he was improperly fired from his job at Dish Network in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana. Coats, a quadriplegic, worked as a customer service representative for the company for years.

Lower courts have repeatedly ruled in Dish Network‘s favor, but last year the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear his case. The decision could impact businesses across the state as they continue to employ not only medical marijuana users but recreational users as well.

 

Reality Check On Marijuana

COLORADO:  Proponents and opponents of the nationwide move to legalize marijuana, recreationally and/or medically, are keeping close eyes on the case of Coats v. Dish Network, slated to be argued before the Colorado Supreme Court tomorrow, Sept. 30.

The case revolves around disabled customer-service representative Brandon Coats, 35, who —  after testing positive for marijuana — told his boss on a Friday that he smoked it primarily at night to relieve spasms he suffered as a result of a car accident that paralyzed him when he was 16. When he showed up for work the following Monday, he said in a recent New York Times article, “my card wouldn’t open up the door.” In short, he had been fired for violating Dish’s drug-free-workplace policy.

If Coats prevails in his argument that his positive drug test should be allowed under Colorado’s 2000 law legalizing it for medicinal purposes (Colorado legalized its recreational use last year as well), employers throughout that state — and even the country — will have a harder time enforcing drug-free work policies, some legal experts say, including those representing Dish Network.

Colorado Supreme Court To Review “Lawful” Use Of Medical Marijuana

COLORADO:  The Colorado Supreme Court agreed on January 27, 2014 to review a case holding that an employer did not violate the state’s “legal activities” law when it dismissed an employee who used medical marijuana” while off duty.

Coats v. Dish Network, No. 13SC394 (CO. Jan. 27, 2014).  For a detailed discussion of the facts of the case and the appellate court’s decision, see the article on our website, Colorado Court Rules Use of ‘Medical Marijuana’ Not ‘Lawful’ under State’s ‘Legal Activities’ Law. 

The Colorado Supreme Court will review two issues in the case:  (1) whether the state’s Lawful Activities law protects employees from discretionary discharge for lawful use of medical marijuana outside the job where the use does not affect job performance; and, (2) whether the state’s Medical Marijuana law makes the use of medical marijuana “lawful” and confers a right to use medical marijuana to persons lawfully registered within the state.

Fired For Legally Smoking Pot: The Coming Colorado Crackdown

COLORADO: On New Year’s Day, Colorado became the first state in which it’s legal to recreationally smoke pot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fireable offense. Under U.S. law, private companies can fire employees for almost anything they do at home or at work. And while Colorado has bucked the trend by banning firings for “lawful” outside-work activities, that protection doesn’t extend to pot.

“I’m not going to get better any time soon,” paraplegic plaintiff Brandon Coats told reporters after his 2010 firing by Dish Network was upheld in a precedent-setting Colorado Court of Appeals case last April. “I need the marijuana, and I don’t want to go the rest of my life without holding a job.” [Read more…]

Fired For Legally Smoking Pot: The Coming Colorado Crackdown

COLORADO: On New Year’s Day, Colorado became the first state in which it’s legal to recreationally smoke pot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fireable offense. Under U.S. law, private companies can fire employees for almost anything they do at home or at work. And while Colorado has bucked the trend by banning firings for “lawful” outside-work activities, that protection doesn’t extend to pot.

“I’m not going to get better any time soon,” paraplegic plaintiff Brandon Coats told reporters after his 2010 firing by Dish Network was upheld in a precedent-setting Colorado Court of Appeals case last April. “I need the marijuana, and I don’t want to go the rest of my life without holding a job.” [Read more…]