A 53-year old man who had recently recovered from cancer and suffers from Crohn’s disease tested positive for marijuana for a work drug test earlier this year. He was fired as a result.
The man, who worked for Dunkin Donuts’ supply chain company National DCP in Westampton, used marijuana to alleviate symptoms, he said. The former worker alleges that his firing was illegal since New Jersey adopted a law legalizing marijuana use three days before he was tested.
The case brings to question rules around marijuana in the workplace. Criminal penalties for marijuana use ended following Gov. Phil Murphy’s February 22nd decision to sign off on bills that decriminalized marijuana use for those over 21 years of age and made way for overturning convictions of marijuana possession for close to 300,000 residents.
But in the new landscape since recreational marijuana use became legal in New Jersey, employers can still ban marijuana use at work and can conduct random drug tests. Workers cannot be fired or not hired if they test positive for weed, however. Because marijuana stays in a person’s system long after use, unlike alcoholic drinks, it makes testing for what may appear to be a current impairment tricky.
In cases of medical marijuana patients, the rules were made clear in 2020 by the New Jersey Supreme Court, which ruled in 2020 that employers cannot fire workers who use medical marijuana in their free time.
The former worker in this case was not a medical marijuana patient, but states that he was in the process of getting authorization when he was fired The suit states that his doctor suggested use of medical cannabis to deal with his symptoms.
Under the new law, employers can still conduct random and pre-employment drug tests for weed use, but cannot fire, discipline or refuse to hire someone if the result is positive. But they can still ban marijuana use at work.
Workers who believe they have been unfairly terminated need an advocate. In the rapidly changing environment around marijuana use in the Garden State, it is important to have an attorney who understands the impacts these decisions have in the workplace. If you believe you have been unjustly fired, call the Philadelphia employment lawyers at the firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today at 215-569-1999 or complete a form online. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the firm serves clients throughout South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County.