Blog

Courts Are Beginning to Rule Against Employers Who Discriminate Against Medical Marijuana Users

Health care worker Katelin Noffsinger told a potential employer that she took medical marijuana to deal with the effects of a car accident, but when a drug test came back positive, the nursing home rescinded her job offer anyway. A federal judge last month ruled that the nursing home, which had cited federal laws against pot use, violated an anti-discrimination provision of the Connecticut’s medical marijuana law. It was the latest in a series of clashes between U.S. and state laws around the country that came out in favor of medical marijuana users trying to keep or obtain jobs with drug-testing employers.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a pro-marijuana group, stated that, “this decision reflects the rapidly changing cultural and legal status of cannabis, and affirms that employers should not be able to discriminate against those who use marijuana responsibly while off the job, in compliance with the laws of their state”. Noffsinger sued Bride Brook Health & Rehabilitation Center in Niantic in 2016. She had been offered, and accepted, a job as recreation therapy director at the nursing home, contingent on her passing a drug test. She told the nursing home that she took synthetic marijuana pills – legally under state law and only at night – to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder she developed after the 2012 car accident. But the company rescinded the job offer after the drug test came back positive for THC.

On Sept. 5, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer in New Haven ruled Bride Brook discriminated against Noffsinger based solely on her medical marijuana use in violation of state law. He denied her request for punitive damages. The case is now heading to a trial on whether Noffsinger should receive compensatory damages for lost wages from not getting the job. In his ruling, Meyer said the federal Drug Free Workplace Act, which many employers including federal contractors rely on for policies on drug testing, does not actually require drug testing and does not prohibit federal contractors from employing people who use medical marijuana outside the workplace in accordance with state law.

The American Bar Association called the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island cases “an emerging trend in employment litigation” and cautioned employers to consider state medical marijuana laws when analyzing their drug use and testing policies. Several bills are pending before Congress that would undo marijuana’s classification as a controlled substance with no medicinal value. But Armentano, of NORML, said it is unlikely they will go anywhere while Republicans control Congress. Some employers, though, have dropped marijuana from the drug tests they require of employees, saying the testing excludes too many potential workers in a challenging hiring environment.

Frank T. Luciano has been representing people accused of marijuana related issues for over 40 years. He is a lifetime member of the legal committee for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and has been a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s for many years. He is familiar with bail/detention procedures in Bergen (Hackensack), Passaic (Paterson) and Hudson (Jersey City) Counties.

Our Client Testimonials

"Mr. Luciano freed my mind of anxiety right from the start. A consummate professional. He explained all options on defense and guided me to the one I followed with excellent results. Best of all, he is reasonable. Relax and let his knowledge (the magic) work."


From a former client

"First thing I want to tell is that I thank God for giving me the opportunity to meet such a wonderful person like you and without question, the best lawyer in this world. I am very grateful for everything you did for me. I want to let you know that I'm doing good and if you ever think of coming to . . . for vacation don't forget to contact me. Thanks again Mr. Luciano and please say hello to that kind lady that answers the phone with pleasure every time I called."


From a former client with a First Degree Distribution Charge

"In my distraction focusing on my . . . trial, I failed to ask you how things went with . . . I watched and learned from you throughout that case and greatly admire the consummsate attorney that I hoped to emulate. I witnessed how very hard you worked and how you left no stone unturned. I hope the case worked out for you and your clients. If it did not (and I hope it did) it was not for lack of the effect on your part which was humbling."


From an adversary in a case where we ultimately returned a verdict of $2,069,000

"My family and I would like to thank you for all of your hard work on my case. I feel like I can live my life normally again and it feels awesome. You are truly a professional and wonderful attorney."


From a former client charged with a serious weapons offense

"At the time, I was mortified because, having only worked against you in the Prosecutor’s Office, I couldn’t picture being on the same side. Frank, I want to thank you for the pleasure of having worked with you over the past years. I have learned a great deal from you. Most importantly, I learned that cases were not always as black and white as I thought they were when I worked for the Prosecutor’s Office. You are a wonderful attorney who not only works hard, but also cares deeply about his clients. Frank, I think you are the best."


From a former investigator of a county prosecutor’s office and retired private investigator

We Can Help.

contact us

Visit Us

147 Main Street, Suite 5

Lodi,

New Jersey 07644

GET DIRECTIONS

Contact Us

Phone: 973.471.0004

Fax: 973.471.1244

CALL NOW

FOLLOW US