Wednesday, November 29, 2023

DC Judge Sides With Government Worker Fired For Using Medical Marijuana

An employee that lost her job due to testing positive for marijuana was protected by the Office of Employee Appeals in D.C. She was reimbursed for all back pay and benefits.

A medical marijuana patient who was fired from her job back in 2020 for being intoxicated while at the office has won a big court battle. The D.C. Office of Employee Appeals (OEA) recently ruled in the worker’s favor, reversing her termination and ordering the responsible parties to reimburse her for all back pay and benefits that she missed out on.

Marijuana Moment reports that the employee petitioned for termination in April 2021. She said that the Office of Unified Communications “falsely accused” her of being impaired while on the job, and that her supervisors used the fact that her eyes were red and that she was talking quietly as sufficient reasons to demand a drug test.

drug test
Photo by RapidEye/Getty Images

She explained that her eyes could’ve been red due to lack of sleep and that, at the time, she was capable of doing her work properly. She said that she hadn’t used cannabis on the day of the drug test, but that she had used it over the weekend before the drug test. She then provided the necessary paperwork to show that she was a medical marijuana patient.

RELATED: Drug Testing At Work Is A Thing Of The Past, Study Finds

“OUC was negligent in how it handled the process for reasonable suspicion of impairment from drugs,” said Monica Dohnji, senior administrative judge for OEA. Dohnji added that supervisors had no evidence that their employee was sufficiently impaired and she wasn’t able to complete her duties.

“Because Employee was allowed to perform her duties and did in fact adequately do so after being observed by her supervisors, I find that [the supervisors] did not reasonably believe that Employee’s ability to perform her job was impaired,” wrote the judge in the final ruling. “As such, I further conclude that a reasonable suspicion referral was unwarranted.”

RELATED: DC Passes Law That Protects Employees From Failed Drug Tests

As marijuana becomes legal in a variety of states, lawmakers are trying to create protections for residents. The process is slow and there’s much to be done, with most states having some form of protection for medical marijuana patients. Still, as time passes, more laws are appearing and protecting workers from drug tests and losing their jobs over using a drug that’s legal in their state.


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