Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:55 pm
by DAVID RUNK
updated 6/29/2010 1:51:21 PM
DETROIT — A man who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday he was wrongfully fired from a Walmart store in Michigan after testing positive for the drug.
Joseph Casias was fired last year after five years on the job in Battle Creek despite being legally registered with the state to use the drug, according to the lawsuit against the world's largest retailer in state court.
Casias said he didn't use marijuana at work or come to work under the influence. Scott Michelman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the lawsuit aims to test the extent that Michigan's law protects employees.
"No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, and no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors," Michelman said.
Michigan voters approved medical marijuana use in 2008. Federal law still prohibits the sale and cultivation of the drug.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said in a statement that it is an "unfortunate situation all around." It said it is sympathetic to Casias' condition but said it is an issue of customer and employee safety.
"The doctor prescribed treatment was not the relevant issue. The issue is about the ability of our associates to do their jobs safely," the company said. "As more states allow this treatment, employers are left without any guidelines except the federal standard."
Casias' drug test was given after he injured his knee at work in November, but the positive result on the urine test only indicated drug use in recent days or weeks, according to the lawsuit in Calhoun County Circuit Court. Casias said the injury had nothing to do with marijuana use; he simply stepped the wrong way.
Fourteen states provide protections for patients who use marijuana as recommended by a doctor. While still illegal under federal law, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last year the Obama administration would relax prosecution guidelines. Some state courts, however, haven't upheld employee protections.
Vote: Should a worker be fired for using medical marijuana outside of work? In April, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that an employer is not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana, saying state law is trumped by federal law. And in recent years, state supreme courts in Montana and California have ruled that medical marijuana laws don't protect employees from being fired for using the drug.
Here in Houston, my daughter in law worked faithfully for Walmart for 14 years. One evening, she and my granddaughter went to see a movie. In the parking lot, a man approached very quickly and tasered her. He was successfully fought off as he tried to steal her purse. The woman's resultant injuries caused her to need constant medical care. Walmart fired her because the doctor visits kept her off the job too much.
If there isn't a law against that.... there should be
... Walmart fired her because the doctor visits kept her off the job too much.
I'm sorry to hear of this situation close to you, Edgar.
Some folks probably won't agree with me, but there are benefits to union membership. This sort of thing would have never happened in the union that I belonged to for over 30 years.
When I was a member of the Teamsters, I got fired for missing a day of work. This despite my doctor's note. The union representative saw my note and I got hired back. It was a process, the firing and rehiring, that took about twenty minutes.
Yeah, and I guess it'll depend on what union you belong to.
Nonetheless, I never regreted belonging to one.
For that reason, I have a private pension.
I am for well regulated unions.
My ex was a teamster (UPS), for a while, or if not an official teamster, benefitted from it as an on call guy. My dad was a film editors union guy.
I know unions have a big bad side, and I sometimes have mixed opinions.
The case in your thread post interests me, Eb.