New Jersey Court Finds that Marijuana Use is not a Reasonable Accomodation
In a recent decision, a New Jersey district court dismissed an employee’s claim for disability discrimination stemming from the employee’s use of medical marijuana.
In Cotto v. Ardagh Glass Packing, Inc., an employee brought a claim against his employer for disability discrimination and retaliation. The employee had injured his head on a forklift while working and was told that in order to return to work, he must pass a drug test. The employee advised that he used medicinal marijuana and that he was unable to pass a drug test. His employer refused to allow him to return to work unless he could pass a drug test. The employee sued, claiming disability discrimination, arguing that the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (“CUMMA”) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD") require his employer to provide an accommodation for him by waiving the requirement that the employee pass a drug test.
The Court first noted that marijuana is a federally-prohibited narcotic and that while states like New Jersey have passed laws allowing the use of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, the drug was still banned under federal law. The Court then looked at the language of CUMMA and the NJLAD. The Court explained that CUMMA had no bearing on the employee’s case as the statute merely permits individuals to use medical marijuana and does not require employers to accommodate employees who use medicinal marijuana. Similarly, the Court found that the LAD also contained no requirement that an employer accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana with a drug test waiver. As such, the Court dismissed the employee’s claim, explaining that the employee could not perform the essential functions of his job and that the employer was “within its rights to refuse to waive a drug test for federally-prohibited narcotics.”
TAKEAWAY: Employers do not have to waive a drug test requirement as a reasonable accommodation for their employees.
The postings on this blog were created for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. Although we attempt to ensure that the postings are complete, accurate, and current as of the time of publication, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.
This blog may contain links to independent third party websites and services, including social media. We provide these links for your convenience, and you access them at your own risk. We have no control over and do not monitor the content or policies (including privacy policies) of these third-party websites and have no responsibility for, and no liability with respect to, their content, accuracy, or reliability. Unless expressly stated, we do not endorse any of the linked websites or any product, service, or publication referenced herein or therein. We will remove a link to any site from this blog upon request of the linked entity.
We grant permission to readers to link to this blog so long as this blog is not misrepresented. This site is not sponsored or associated with any other site unless so identified.
If you wish for Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., to consider representing you, please obtain contact information from the Contact Us area of this blog or go to the firm’s website at www.wilentz.com. One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. However, the authors of Wilentz blogs are licensed only in New Jersey and/or New York and do not wish to represent anyone who viewed this site in a state where the site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.