In a 5 to 2 opinion issued yesterday, the California Supreme Court affirmed an employer’s right to terminate an employee for marijuana use, even if the employee has a physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana to treat a protected disabling condition. Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc.
RagingWire offered Ross a job as a lead systems administrator and required him to take a pre-employment drug test. Ross gave the clinic that would administer the test a copy of his physician’s recommendation that he use marijuana to treat chronic pain relating to injuries he sustained while serving in the United States Air Force. When Ross’s drug test revealed the presence of THC, a chemical found in marijuana, Plaintiff was suspended. He gave his employer a copy of his physician’s recommendation for marijuana use, but was later terminated from his position. He filed suit for violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s finding that FEHA does not require employers to accommodate the use of illegal drugs, even if such use is limited to home and with a physician’s recommendation. The Court further held that California’s Compassionate Use Act, which protects medical marijuana users and their physicians from criminal liability under two specific state statutes, does not speak to employment law. The Court affirmed dismissal of the wrongful termination in violation of public policy claim, specifically rejecting the argument that the Compassionate Use Act gives individuals the right to use marijuana free of hindrance or inconvenience, enforceable against third parties.
Read the court’s decision here.
Keesal, Young & Logan Employment Group