Scales of Justice

California Employers May Prohibit Marijuana Use at Work, so Think Before You Smoke!

Marijuana LeavesOn January 1, California businesses finally reaped the benefits of legalized marijuana sales, and if the first week of business is any signal of longevity, it appears that marijuana is here to stay in California. While California will likely be seeing green for years to come, that does not mean that your employer sees the same way.

Notably, Proposition 64 – the 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana sales – empowered employers to enact policies against marijuana use during the workday.[1] In other words, if your job has a drug-free workplace policy, it is not changed by the new law. Although a business has the final say whether it will maintain a drug-free policy or follow suit with Proposition 64, potential liability and reputation concerns will likely induce employers to choose the former option. As such, you should always read your company policy before taking advantage of the new law while on the clock.

Even if you use marijuana for medical reasons (which has been legal in California for over 20 years), you can still be fired for using or testing positive for, medical marijuana on the job. In 2008, the California Supreme Court held that California employers were not required to accommodate employees’ medical marijuana use under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.[2] Additionally, the Americans With Disabilities Act (a federal law) does not protect medical marijuana users on the job either.[3] Thus, a doctor’s note only keeps you out of a jail cell, not an unemployment line.

While the times are changing, the laws regarding recreational and medical marijuana in the workplace remain the same. However, if you have been terminated for marijuana use without a company policy prohibiting such use, you may have a case against your employer. For more information about your rights, and a free case evaluation, please call us at (619) 342-8000.

[1] http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Chronicle-recommends-Legalize-marijuana-Yes-on-9223733.php
[2] Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc., 42 Cal. 4th 920 (2008).
[3] James v. City of Costa Mesa, 700 F.3d 394 (2012).

Categories