ACLU puts WalMart back in the hot seat

Angry WalMartDoesn’t it feel like just yesterday that WalMart was paying out $86 million to settle a wage lawsuit? Well, the world’s largest retailer is about to head to court again, this time courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Tuesday the ACLU filed a lawsuit against WalMart on behalf of an employee, who informed his bosses that he was using medical marijuana, but was fired anyway after failing a drug test.

Joseph Casias, a husband and father of two with a rare form of cancer in his nasal cavity and brain, was let go by the retailer in November 2009…even though a doctor verified his illness and need for medical marijuana.  WalMart said that while they sympathized with the employee and his situation, they had to “put the safety of their customers and associates first.”

Casias said that the marijuana was not for recreational purposes and he never went to work high. And while WalMart claims that the positive drug test proves that Casias was high at work, marijuana is stored in the body’s fat cells and can remain there for up to several days.  In other words, Casias could have smoked a week ago, outside of work, and still have tested positive.

“No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, and no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors,” said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.

While medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, where Casias worked and where the ACLU filed the lawsuit, Michelman believes that the lawsuit will help establish the limits of protection extended to employees who use marijuana to control chronic pain.

Casias was voted Most Valuable Associate in 2008 by the WalMart where he worked.  Yet because of a medical situation and chronic pain that he previously informed his employers of, he lost his job and means to support his family.

Do you believe that medical marijuana should be treated differently in the workplace than other medications, such as prescribed painkillers?  Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 1st, 2010 at 3:08 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “ACLU puts WalMart back in the hot seat”

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