Connecticut’s state law against employment discrimination is often more protective of employees than the federal anti-discrimination laws. One example of this concerns Connecticut’s protection of individuals who use medical marijuana. Many people don’t realize that they are protected from discrimination based on medical marijuana, but this is the case. On this page, I will discuss medical marijuana discrimination in the workplace and what to do if you are the victim of this issue.
Medical Marijuana Discrimination in the Workplace
Connecticut permits marijuana use by qualified individuals for medical purposes under the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act, or “PUMA” for short. No employer is allowed to discriminate against an employee because of the employee’s use of medical marijuana.
When employers have discriminated against employees, they usually do so in three ways:
- The employer takes adverse action against an employee for a discriminatory reason;
- The employer treats the employee different from other employees because of a discriminatory reason; or
- The employer’s discriminatory conduct creates such a hostile work environment that an abusive workplace environment is created.
Consider this situation: An employee receives a job offer from an employer that has a drug-free workplace policy. The job offer is contingent upon a clean drug test. The employee tells the employer that she uses medical marijuana pursuant to her doctor’s instructions, and the employee proves that she is qualified under state law as a medical marijuana user. The drug test is positive for marijuana use. The employer revokes the job offer. The only reason for not hiring the employee is because of the positive test.
Is this legal? No. The employer acted illegally under Connecticut law.
In a recent employment discrimination case, the judge ruled in favor of an employee who lost her job offer just because she used medical marijuana. The judge decided that PUMA’s anti-discrimination language protected against discrimination because of her use of medical marijuana. The employer tried to defend itself on the basis of a federal law that required certain businesses to keep drug free workplaces. The judge rejected the defense. The judge specifically found that the federal law at issue did not prohibit medical marijuana use. Refusing to hire the medical marijuana user violated state anti-discrimination law.
If you are the victim of workplace discrimination for any reason, you need an experienced employment discrimination attorney on your side. If you have faced medical marijuana discrimination in the workplace, consider contacting our office. We can help!
Please give us a call at (203) 925-9200. We are here to help!