April 6th thru April 12th in the year Two Thousand and Twenty
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020NJ Supreme Court Recognizes Medical Marijuana Discrimination
A funeral director who claims he was terminated because of his use of medical marijuana to manage cancer-related pain may pursue discrimination claims against his former employer, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.
As we previously reported, the state’s Appellate Division last year reinstated Justin Wild’s anti-discrimination claims against his former employer, Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.
After returning to work following a car-accident-related injury, Wild informed his employer that he had been using medical marijuana to treat his cancer. He explained that his doctor did not perform a drug test after his car accident because he did not appear impaired and the doctor already knew that a test would reveal the presence of marijuana metabolites. The funeral home then administered its own drug test to Wild and he tested positive for marijuana metabolites. As a result, Wild’s employment was terminated.
Before the New Jersey Supreme Court announced it would review this decision, the state’s legislature amended the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, to explicitly provide employment protections for medical marijuana users. In particular, the amended statute now prohibits employers from taking any adverse employment action “based solely on the employee’s status” as a medical marijuana patient. In addition, the amendment provides that where an employer does have a drug testing policy, any employee or applicant who tests positive for marijuana must be provided an opportunity to present a legitimate medical explanation for the positive result or to request a retest.
At the time that Wild was terminated, however, the Compassionate Use Act did not provide such explicit protection. Thus, it was up to the judiciary to determine whether employees could nonetheless pursue claims for adverse employment actions related to the use of medical marijuana. The trial court’s answer to this question was no, and it dismissed Wild’s claims, relying on the provision of the Compassionate Use Act that states, “nothing in [the Compassionate Use Act] shall be construed to require … an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.”
In reversing the trial court’s dismissal, the Appellate Division held that Wild had stated a cognizable claim for discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) on the basis of his disability. The Appellate Division reasoned, “the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights" which included the right to be reasonably accommodated.
In reviewing this decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s ultimate holding and the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. Notably, however, the Supreme Court declined to adopt the broad view that “the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights.” Specifically, the court observed that there are two particular provisions of the Compassionate Use Act that can impact an NJLAD claim: (1) the provision stating that employers are not required to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace; and (2) the prohibition against operating a vehicle or other heavy equipment when under the influence of marijuana.
The five-page per curiam opinion did not discuss the effect of the recent amendments to the Compassionate Use Act. The court referred only to the 2018 version of the Act, implying that it will not apply the amendments retroactively. As the decision pointed out, there are cases where an employee’s medical marijuana use may warrant termination. Employers can still terminate an employee for arriving to work impaired or for having or using marijuana while in the workplace. In addition, employers may face civil and criminal liability for allowing an employee to operate a vehicle while impaired.
As this area of the law is rapidly developing, employers should consult with experienced employment counsel to ensure that they are on solid ground before taking adverse action against an employee who has tested positive for marijuana (medicinal or otherwise) and that their drug testing policies are compliant with the Compassionate Use Act and the holding in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2020Alleged drunken driver, 73, spits in squad car, referencing COVID-19, Madison police say
An alleged drunken driver repeatedly spit in the back of a squad car while referencing COVID-19 on Monday morning, Madison police reported.
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James A. Bailey, 73, of Madison, told the arresting officer he was contaminating surfaces, mentioning that the COVID-19 coronavirus can be present for several hours, "so we would all be dead in 72 hours," police spokesman Joel DeSpain said in a statement.
A witness told police Bailey was driving erratically in the pedestrian area of Library Mall at the lower end of State Street, and this is where police contacted him, DeSpain said.
Bailey was not showing signs of actually having COVID-19, but the officer needed to have the department’s COVID-19 Task Force thoroughly clean the back of her squad due to all of the saliva, DeSpain said.
Bailey was tentatively charged with discharge of bodily fluids at a public safety worker, threatening a law enforcement officer, and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.
Monday, April 6th, 2020MLB'S TODD HELTON
GETS JAIL TIME
... Over 2019 DUIWeekly DUI News
Colorado Rockies legend Todd Helton was sentenced to 2 days in jail over a 2019 incident ... this after the 46-year-old pleaded guilty to DUI in court last month.
Todd was busted in Knoxville, Tenn. on March 18, 2019 after cops say the former MLB first baseman lost control of his truck and crashed it into a telephone pole.
Officers say when they arrived on scene ... Helton was being taken care of by emergency medical personnel -- and had admitted to taking Ambien before getting behind the wheel.
But, in the police report, cops say they found a plastic cup that reeked of booze inside his ride ... and eventually, they issued a misdemeanor DUI citation to the ex-baseball player.
Helton entered a treatment program immediately after the crash after expressing remorse for his actions, but the case dragged on in court for nearly a year before he finally cut a plea deal with prosecutors on March 10.
A spokesperson for the Knox County district attorney's office tells TMZ Sports that in exchange for pleading guilty-as-charged to DUI ... he received a sentence of 48 hours in custody.
Helton also received 11 months and 29 days on unsupervised probation, a $350 fine and got his license suspended for 1 year. Helton was also ordered to attend a Victim Impact Panel.
We reached out to Helton's attorney for comment, but so far, no word back yet.
Of course, this was not Todd's first run-in with DUI trouble ... he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired back in 2013 in Colorado.
Helton -- who played his college baseball at the University of Tennessee -- is considered the greatest Rockie of all-time ... and is expected to push for a spot in baseball's Hall of Fame someday.