Legislative Alert: A Medical Marijuana Ruling Could have Ripple Effect for Employers Across the Country

Screening News

  • A Court Win Could Keep Medical Marijuana Users on the Job
  • West Virginia Changing Marijuana Regulations
  • San Francisco Approves Pay Parity


A Court Win Could Keep Medical Marijuana Users on the Job

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that a woman who had been fired for using doctor-recommended medical marijuana could sue her employer for wrongful termination. This ruling could affect every employer in every state that has Ok’d medical marijuana. The employee, Christina Barbuto, was fired on her first day on the job after testing positive for marijuana that had been recommended to treat her Crohn’s disease. Her employer argued that she could not sue for handicap discrimination because it is still illegal to use the drug under federal law. In the court’s decision, Chief Justice Ralph Gans said if a doctor decides medical marijuana is the best course of treatment for a debilitating condition, an employer should see this as an exception to its drug policy and accommodate it. This ruling is the first of its kind in the country and is being hailed by some as “groundbreaking.”

RELATED: Sign up for our 30-minute webcast to see what this means for your company’s marijuana policy.

West Virginia Changing Marijuana Regulations

In a matter of days this spring, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed two bills regarding the use of marijuana in his state. The first legalized medical marijuana and went into effect at the beginning of this month. The second bill gave employers the right to test employees and applicants for drug use. Up until this law went into effect on July 7th, drug testing was considered an impermissible invasion of an employee’s right to privacy. There were a few exceptions to the previous law that would allow testing if there was reasonable suspicion of drug use or if the use of drugs doing specific job duties could risk harm to others. The Safer Workplace Act overrules current case law and allows employers to require mandatory drug and alcohol testing for both applicants and current employees.


San Francisco Approves Pay Parity

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently signed new legislation into law that will prohibit employers from asking applicants how much money they have been paid in the past. The “Parity in Pay Ordinance” was created to narrow the gap between how much men and women were paid. The ordinance forbids employers from asking about salary, commissions and even benefits. It doesn’t, however, prohibit an applicant from voluntarily disclosing their history during salary negotiations once an offer is made. Several areas including New York City, Philadelphia and Massachusetts already have similar laws in place. The San Francisco ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2018, but monetary penalties do not begin until January 1, 2019.


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Jennifer Gladstone

Posted By: Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.