Walmart fires Michigan man for using medical marijuana

By Motorhead · Mar 13, 2010 · ·
  1. Motorhead
    Walmart fires Michigan man for using medical marijuana

    BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WZZM) - Now that medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, can an employer fire a worker who tests positive for the drug?

    WalMart says it can, so it did. "I was terminated because I failed a drug screening," says former WalMart employee Joseph Casias.

    In 2008, Casias was the Associate Of The Year at the WalMart store in Battle Creek, despite suffering from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

    At his doctor's recommendation, Casias says he legally uses medical marijuana to ease his pain.

    "It helps tremendously," he says. "I only use it to stop the pain. To make me feel more comfortable and active as a person."

    During his five years at WalMart, Casias says he went to work every day, determined to be the best.

    "I gave them everything," he says. "110 percent every day. Anything they asked me to do I did. More than they asked me to do. 12 to 14 hours a day."

    But last November, Casias sprained his knee at work. Marijuana was detected in his system during the routine drug screening that follows all workplace injuries. Casias showed WalMart managers his state medical marijuana card, but he was fired anyway.

    "I was told they do not accept or honor my medical marijuana card," says Casias.

    In an e-mail from headquarters, WalMart spokesman Greg Rossiter explained the company policy. It states: "In states, such as Michigan, where prescriptions for marijuana can be obtained, an employer can still enforce a policy that requires termination of employment following a positive drug screen. We believe our policy complies with the law and we support decisions based on the policy."

    Casias says he never used marijuana before work.

    "No, I never came to work under the influence, never," he says. "I don't think it's fair. Because I have a medical condition I can't work and provide for my family?"

    Casias has been collecting unemployment compensation since he was fired in November but this week he says he was notified WalMart is challenging his eligibility for benefits.

    "It's not fair," he says.

    March 12, 2010
    Phil Dawson, Christa Graban

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  1. NeuroChi
    If it's true that he was a good employee, Associate of the Year and all, then what could they hope to achieve by firing him?

    The policy needs reviewing. Can they really choose to not honor his medical marijuana card - which is issued by the state?

    Sounds like a case of wrongful dismissal, based on discrimination.
    I hope he sues WalMart for everything they are worth. And I hear that's a lot.
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    there have been a number of such cases in CA, and so far the courts of sided with the employers.

    Would guess though that folks may have a better case in states with stricter medical marijuana laws- ie, states where one must actually have a serious medical condition to get a card.
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