New Jersey man sues Amazon for firing him over medical marijuana use

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A New Jersey man filed a lawsuit in October against his employer Amazon for allegedly firing him after not advising his superiors of his medical marijuana treatment. The man, who has been publicly identified only as D.J.C., failed a random drug test in July, and was put on temporary paid leave. After supplying the documentation of his condition that the company asked for, he was officially terminated.

That decision may well put Amazon on the wrong side of New Jersey law. Though an appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court, a state appeals court has ruled that medical marijuana patients may not be fired if they flunk a drug test.

D.J.C.’s lawsuit holds that the company discriminated against him in a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He had been employed at the Edison, New Jersey Amazon warehouse since February 2017, and according to his lawsuit had never run into disciplinary problems at the company—to the contrary, he was promoted twice during the year that he was employed by the company. In July 2018, he did a random oral fluid test for drugs, and tested positive for marijuana.

D.J.C. says he was prescribed cannabis to help treat his anxiety and panic disorder.

Mixed Messages

The employee remembers being told that, should results come back positive, he would have an opportunity to send proper documentation of his reasons for needing the substance for medical treatment.

He did get the opportunity, but not before a human resources worker told him he was being fired based on his positive test results. D.J.C. showed the HR rep his New Jersey medical marijuana card, and the termination was changed to a temporary leave with pay, pending the presentation of his physician’s certification of his fitness for work.

Though the man turned in the requested paperwork two days later, a week after the start of his “temporary” leave, in August 2018 he was told he was being fired for not letting the company know in advance about his medical cannabis treatment.

When he later applied to work at Whole Foods, the man was informed that his termination from Amazon precluded him from being considered for the position.

This is not the first time an employee has sued Amazon for wrongful termination over use of medical marijuana. In 2016, the company fired a woman who had worked for the company for eight years. It wound up settling with her for an undisclosed sum.

Amazon has come under fire for its treatment of its employees, from unreasonable task schedules to indifference in the face of workplace injuries. In October, 1,800 Amazon workers from the United States, England, Australia, and other locations organized a global walk-out, one sign of the growing labor movement within its ranks.

Regardless, the company continues its astounding upward trajectory. A recent report said that the value of Amazon shares has quintupled over the past five years, and that executives expect third quarter sales to rise by 24 percent.

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