ADA Accommodation for Medical Marijuana Case Study
An Arizona woman was fired from her job for using medical marijuana, which was legally obtained for medical reasons related to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is considering whether to sue her former employer for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and ADAAA.
She had been in a serious car accident just over a year ago and the Jaws of Life were used to extricate her from her demolished vehicle. When she came out of her coma and after she was released from the hospital, she suffered from tremors and panic attacks. She informed her former employer before being hired that she had the required certification from her physician allowing her to purchase marijuana under her state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law and had a registration card for verification.
The medical marijuana aids her in alleviating anxiety and keeping her in a calm state necessary for her to function steadily in any work she maintains. She does not use the substance during the work day, but uses it before she goes to work and at bedtime. She claims she does not sense the proverbial “high” that most people associate with smoking marijuana.
She advised her former employer that if drug testing was required, she would test positive for the medical marijuana. The employer hired her anyway, leading the woman to believe that her use of medical marijuana was not an issue for the employer. The employer maintains the company has a zero-tolerance workplace.
Within a month of her employment as a data entry clerk, she was randomly selected to be drug tested. Again, she advised her employer of her allowed medical marijuana use, and also informed the testing site lab where she signed a consent form to be tested. As expected and as she advised, she tested positive for marijuana and resultantly was terminated.
She contacted the Human Resource Department to protest her termination claiming she should be given an ADA accommodation, but the HR representative informed her the company follows federal law in this regard to medical marijuana use because they conduct business with the federal government. Arizona treats employees using medical marijuana as a protected class.
The woman is contemplating suing the company for wrongful termination and discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ADAAA, and violations of her state rights as a protected class employee under Arizona law. She believes she should be reinstated in a same or similar position with back pay and an accommodation given to excuse her from drug testing due to her medical disability, which interferes with basic and daily life and work-related activities unless she is able to take her prescribed medical marijuana.
A Massachusetts woman who claims she was fired from her job for using marijuana, which was legally obtained for medical reasons related to her Crohn’s disease, has sued her former employer.
Cristina Barbuto said in court papers that she told her employer, Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Sales and Marketing, before she was hired that she had obtained written certification from her doctor to purchase marijuana under the state’s 2012 voter-approved medical marijuana law. Barbuto said the drug helps her counter the effects of the disease and maintain her weight.
The lawsuit, filed the first week of September in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, states that she never used marijuana before work or while working, and that she typically used it two or three times a week at home in small quantities and did not feel intoxicated when she did.
According to the lawsuit, Barbuto warned the employer before she was hired that she would test positive for marijuana and was told by company officials that her use of the drug would not be a problem. But after her first day of work in 2014, promoting products in a supermarket, she tested positive for marijuana and was subsequently fired, the lawsuit claims.
When she complained about her dismissal, Barbuto said, a human resources representative told her that the company, which has offices not just in Massachusetts but nationwide, follows federal, not state, law.
Barbuto is seeking damages for lost wages, lost benefits, attorney’s fees and emotional distress. She also wants to be reinstated in her job.
Research online law libraries and the Internet for sources concerning information on ADA, ADAAA, state, and federal medical marijuana laws, privacy for drug testing, as well as drug testing in the workplace.
Discuss the case study in a written report – including all its relevant topics – and include the following:
- Describe whether the requirements of disability eligibility under ADA and ADAAA are applicable in this circumstance, and discuss whether or not the woman has any valid claim and is entitled to any accommodation. Support your position using federal and state laws or statutes, including any legal cases on the matter.
- Evaluate whether or not the company has a valid defense. Support your position using federal or state laws or statutes, and include any legal cases on the matter.
- Analyze whether a reasonable accommodation is appropriate or inappropriate.
- Cite a minimum of two federal laws and one state law in addition to other sources that apply to this case study, and be sure to cite them correctly in the body of your paper as well as the References page.
- Recommend a conflict resolution process that can be used to solve the matter and avoid a lawsuit.
Write a 1,050- to 1,400-word report in the third-person voice.
Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines, and include headings to appropriately signal topics and keep your document organized.
Use a minimum of five different in-text citation sources within your paper, and properly identify them in your References page. Any laws and legal cases used in the body of your paper must also be included in the References page.