A federal judge in Arizona has faulted Walmart for dismissing an employee who tested positive for cannabis even after that employee informed her employer that she had a valid medical marijuana card issued by the state.
It all started when Carol Whitmire sustained an injury while doing her work in one of Walmart’s stores in May 2016. Whitmire, who had worked with the same company for eight years, was immediately rushed to receive medical care after the accident. Blood and urine samples were also taken for analysis as part of Walmart’s policy.
Whitmire informed the HR department about her status as a medical cardholder after that incident and she continued to work after she recovered. However, she was terminated in July for being in contravention of Walmart’s policy on drugs.
Consequently, Whitmire sued Walmart for discrimination and wrongful dismissal. Walmart responded by telling court that it had a right to dismiss Whitmire due to her positive drugs test results.
However, court disagreed and pointed out that Walmart failed to prove that the positive drugs test indicated that Carol Whitmire had been working while intoxicated with marijuana. Had Walmart provided such proof, the court may have considered their assertion that they had good faith in terminating Whitmire.
Whitmire’s attorney, Joshua Carden, applauded the decision of Judge James Teilborg. Carden said that the judge had set a precedent that paved the way for private right-of-action lawsuits under the Arizona medical marijuana laws.
Joshua Carden revealed that the court would soon set a date for delivering its ruling regarding the possibility of reinstating Whitmire, as well as determining how much is due to her for damages and costs for the suits she filed.
Walmart was also glad that the federal court dismissed some of the claims made by Carol Whitmire in her suit. The company reiterated its ceaseless efforts to provide a safe environment for all its customers and associates.
Cases like Carol Whitmire’s are likely to crop up frequently because there is a lot that is still not known about cannabis. For example, for how long can someone remain impaired after consuming cannabis? Part of the reasons why Walmart couldn’t be justified to fire Whitmire is that it wasn’t clear whether a positive drugs test meant that Whitmire was under the influence while at work. Until scientific studies resolve this grey area, employers and employees will not be certain where the boundary is.
All in all, Cannabis Strategic Ventures, Inc. (OTC: NUGS) as well as Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX.V: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) welcome the judgment that made it clear that patients using medical marijuana legally will not lose their jobs just because they test positive for cannabis.
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