In 2010, DISH Network fired a man in a wheelchair after he tested positive for pot use. While that happens every day in America, this partially paralyzed call center worker has a medical weed license. Now, he’s suing DISH under Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law.
Currently in Colorado, an employer can’t fire you for doing something legal on your own time, but DISH argues that since smoking pot is still illegal federally they are within their rights.
Yesterday, the case was taken up by Colorado’s Supreme Court and it’s being actively watched by cannabis advocates and employers alike. The outcome will likely be used as a precedent for years since states are increasingly legalizing weed for medical and recreational use.
In Coats’ case, he smokes weed nightly to help control seizures and spasms. He claims to have an exemplary performance record and was never impaired on the job. It’s no surprise that DISH’s attorneys couldn’t care less.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s impaired or not,” says Meghan Martinez, part of the DISH legal team. “Medical marijuana is not lawful in Colorado … therefore it cannot be a lawful activity.” Under Martinez definition there’s no such thing as legal medical weed in all of the United States because it’s still illegal federally.
It looks like the case will be hard fought. Michael Graves of the Mountain States Employers Council is an employment expert who told USA Today that “until federal law changes, employees have few protections for using pot if their employers object.”
Graves still believes that it’s only a matter of time. “I suspect that within a few years, marijuana is going to make that transition… and employers are going to have to deal with it,” he said. “This case will settle it, but it will only be temporary.” And the people said, Amen. (Photo: Wikimedia)