Workers can be Fired for Off-Duty Marijuana Use: Colorado Court

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on June 16, 2015.

In a historic judgment, the Colorado Supreme Court, while hearing a workplace lawsuit, ruled that employees who use marijuana off the job and away from work, can still be fired if their employers wish so. This verdict will have far-reaching consequences of marijuana users in Colorado, a state has legalized both medical and recreational use of pot, which is still prohibited under the federal law.

The court was hearing the case of a customer service worker Brandon Coats, who was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test. Coats, who has a state-issued medical marijuana license uses pot to control the seizures he suffered due to his quadriplegia. He got paralyzed following a car accident. Coats clarified that he was using medical marijuana only when he was not working.

The Supreme Court did not buy the arguments of his lawyer and said that Dish Network did not violate Colorado's lawful activities statute when it fired Coats. “The term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law,” said the unanimous 6-0 decision.

Dish Network expressed happiness at the verdict and said, “As a national employer, Dish remains committed to a drug-free workplace and compliance with federal law." Experts believe this ruling will set a precedent across the United States. It won't give employers any more guidance and leave the employees with no choice but to adhere to the law. The verdict is seen as a big setback to the marijuana advocates.

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