Tag Archives: Dish Network

The Supreme Court of Colorado ruled unanimously last week that Dish Network acted lawfully when it fired a quadriplegic employee who used medicinal marijuana legally to control leg spasms and while he was not at work.

 

 

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The Supreme Court of Colorado ruled unanimously last week that Dish Network acted lawfully when it fired a quadriplegic employee who used medicinal marijuana legally to control leg spasms and while he was not at work. The employee, Brandon Coats, was fired in 2010 when he failed a random drug test.

Needless to say, this was not a popular decision among marijuana legalization activists. In his appeal, Coats claimed that Colorado labor laws legitimized his use of marijuana, making his firing illegal under those same laws. The court’s ruling held that the term “lawful activity” must be considered in both a federal and a state legal context. Because marijuana use remains illegal under federal law and marijuana itself is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the fact that both the Congress and the Obama administration’s Justice Department have signaled that enforcement will be both lightly funded and lightly enforced does not supersede the law. Under federal law, marijuana is a dangerous and illegal drug and that is the end of the story, regardless of the feds’ “wink-wink-nod-nod” approach.

At the Brookings Institution’s Fixgov blog, managing editor John Hudak noted:

Federal efforts have limited funding for the use of enforcing medical marijuana laws (Congress) or use prosecutorial discretion to limit the enforcement of marijuana laws (Department of Justice). However, those moves do not resolve the serious disconnects in the law that extend far beyond a medical marijuana patient fearing prosecution. Inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws extend to issues of employment, housing, banking, property rights, and a variety of other areas

We have noted before that the lack of a federal law — which only Congress can pass — raises any number of obstacles for companies in the marijuana industry. Dispensaries and growers cannot find bankers willing to take their cash deposits, and even a state government is having difficulty finding a willing bank. With almost half the states having approved the use of medical marijuana, perhaps it is time for Congress to fix a system that is truly broken.

ALSO READ: The 10 Largest Marijuana Companies

Read more: Congress Deserves Blame for Colorado Ruling Against Medical Marijuana – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/consumer-products/2015/06/22/congress-deserves-blame-for-colorado-ruling-against-medical-marijuana/#ixzz3dpMMqgIa
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Colorado Supreme Court to hear case of man fired over medical marijuana –

 

 

By Rachel Estabrook Sep 29, 2014

Tomorrow, Colorado’s Supreme Court will consider whether employers should be able to fire workers for using medical marijuana.

Brandon Coats, the plaintiff, is suing Dish Network for firing him in 2010 from his job as a telephone operator after he tested positive for marijuana.

As a teenager, Coats was injured in a car accident, which left him unable to walk. 

“I use marijuana at nighttime, and just a little bit gets my spasms to where my body’s not going out of control,” he says.

Dish Network did not respond to Colorado Public Radio News’ requests for comment, but has said in court that the firing is in line with a policy that complies with federal law making marijuana illegal. Lower courts in Colorado have sided with Dish Network.

Coats has appealed to the Supreme Court because, he says, he wants to work again.

“There’s a lot of people out there like me  who would like to have a job but cannot, because their impairment requires them to use marijuana, and because marijuana’s looked down on for employment, they’re not able to get jobs,” he says.

Despite the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana, Colorado law does not require employers to allow marijuana use. The statute authorizing medical use of marijuana states, “Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place.” Amendment 64, which approved recreational marijuana use for Colorado adults, has a similar provision.

But Coats’ attorney has cited a Colorado law called the “Lawful Activities” statute, which prohibits an employer from discharging an employee for engaging in lawful activity off the premises of the business during nonworking hours.

Lara Makinen says most employers in Colorado have drug-free workplace policies spurred by the federal Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988. Makinen is on the board of the Colorado chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management. And she says, only a very small portion of employers have relaxed those policies since the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado. Many employers have actually tightened their drug testing policies, according to a survey by the Mountain States Employers Council.

Makinen holds regular phone calls and writes a newsletter for other human resources professionals in the state, and she says she has gotten a lot of questions about marijuana. “They want to know whether to stop drug testing, whether to change their policies,” she says. “They want to know, if someone’s smoking pot in their car at lunch, do I have to let them keep working after lunch?”

She says she’s sympathetic to Brandon Coats’ case, but worries that a ruling in his favor would open up employers to more lawsuits, and potentially embolden some employees to show up at work impaired. “Especially in jobs that have high safety standards, physicians, operating machinery… we have to be able to say as an employer, you have to come here clean and clear-headed,” Makinen says.

Coats’ attorney, Michael Evans, says his case isn’t about recreational marijuana, nor about using medical marijuana at work.

“We’re looking for something that both employers and employees can find a reasonable, working, practical solution,” he says. “For somebody in Brandon’s situation, who uses it after work, and who’s in a safe position answering phone calls from a desk… I think we can find a way to live together and not terminate these people.”

The Coats v. Dish case has gotten significant national attention. Makinen says there is no precedent, despite the fact that 22 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. “The bottom line is there’s no one else who has policies on this stuff,” she says.

– See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/colorado-supreme-court-hear-case-man-fired-over-medical-marijuana#sthash.mpfNvmqL.dpuf