The New Jersey Court of Appeals revived a funeral director’s health-related marijuana discrimination suit in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., Case No. A-3072-17T3. There, the funeral director was involved in a workplace accident. The director told the hospital that he was authorized to use health-related marijuana. The employer fired the funeral director. The funeral director’s supervisor told him it was since of his health-related marijuana use but the employer stated that the director was fired since he failed to comply with the Company’s policy which expected personnel to inform their supervisor if they are taking drugs that could alter their potential to execute their duties. The director argued that his termination was unlawful beneath the State’s discrimination law even even though the health-related marijuana act did not afford him protection.
The court held that even even though New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Health-related Marijuana Act does not “require … an employer to accommodate the health-related use of marijuana in any workplace,” it does not “immunize an employer’s obligation currently imposed elsewhere” — such as in discrimination statutes.
Even even though the employer argued that the discrimination law is silent as to whether or not an employer ought to accommodate the use of health-related marijuana in the workplace, the court focused on New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) (N.J.S.A. 10:five-12(a)), which tends to make it “unlawful for an employer, since of the … disability … of any person … to discharge … or to discriminate against such person … in terms, situations or privileges of employment.” The court located that the LAD may demand the employer to present an accommodation and, therefore, overturned the reduce court’s dismissal.
The court also rejected arguments that the Compassionate Use Act and the LAD had been in conflict and, rather, located that the Compassionate Use Act does not: (1) generate new employment laws (two) alter current employment laws and (three) does not alter or destroy the LAD.
This is a cautionary tale for employers. Employers relying on marijuana statutes to bar health-related marijuana use at function must be mindful just before taking adverse action against a lawfully registered health-related marijuana user. Whilst the appellate court did not rule that the employee was subjected to disability discrimination, it did enable the case to proceed. Additional, employers with blanket “no marijuana” or “in compliance with Federal law” policies may contemplate revising such policies to afford themselves higher protections in States exactly where underlying State discrimination statutes present pot customers protections. For much more data on this problem, employers may perhaps speak to the author straight or speak to their favored Seyfarth Cannabis lawyer.