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Dish Discriminates Against Disabled Employee over use of medical marijuana


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#1 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:20 PM

(CN) - A Colorado quadriplegic who used legally sanctioned medical marijuana and lost his job with Dish Network cannot sue, the state appeals court ruled.
     Dish fired Brandon Coats for violating its drug policy after he tested positive for marijuana, but Coast claimed in a wrongful termination complaint that he had acted within his license under the state's Medical Marijuana Amendment. The quadriplegic worker also noted that he had not used marijuana at work and was not under its influence on the job.
     Arapahoe County Judge Elizabeth Volz dismissed the action after finding that Coats' use of marijuana was not a lawful activity. Though the Medical Marijuana Amendment established a defense from prosecution for users of the drug, it did not create a right to such use.

 

 

http://www.courthous...04/30/57179.htm

 

Despite any court ruling, this never should have happened.  I'm really starting to get fed up with Dish.  I used to be a big supporter, but they are turning their backs on customers and employees alike.

 

 


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#2 OFFLINE   sregener

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:31 PM

It isn't news that your protections under the law do not guarantee you protections to be employed.  In other words, you may have the right to free speech - which means you are free to say what you want about what you want - but you do not have the right to keep your job if your employer deems your speech harmful to their business.  So while you can say, as an employee of Dish, that satellite television just plain sucks, and you won't go to jail for saying it, you shouldn't expect that you can keep your job at Dish if the powers that be get word of it.  Because exercising your freedoms does not mean that your employer is not free to exercise theirs.

 

It is common practice now for employers to run credit checks as part of the hiring process.  It helps to eliminate possible embezzelment risks.  Likewise, using certain drugs may make you more at risk to do damaging things to your employer as part of your daily job activities.  The fact that the drug in question is legal now does not change Dish's opinion that using marijuana impairs an employee's ability to carry out their job to Dish's satisfaction.

 

Now if this had been filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act, maybe the result would have been different, but then the employee would have to have demonstrated that he required that specific drug and that Dish could not make reasonable accomodations.



#3 OFFLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:35 PM

The title of the thread seemed a bit misleading. It sounded like Dish just flat out discriminated because the person is disabled...no mention of medical marijuana.

 

IMO, he was wrongfully terminated, but this quote from the article makes it pretty clear Dish was legally in the right...

 A divided three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday, citing the fact that marijuana use is illegal under federal law.
     "Thus, forbidding a Colorado employer from terminating an employee for federally prohibited off-the-job behavior is of sufficient policy import that we cannot infer, from plain statutory language to the contrary and silence in the legislative discussions, the legislative intent to do just that," Chief Judge Janice Davidson wrote for the majority.

 


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#4 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 03:14 PM

^ If Dish cared about the employee, this wouldn't have happened.

 

And Yes, I consider this action discriminatory.  They know the state law allows this choice for the employee.


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#5 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 03:48 PM

Arapahoe County Judge Elizabeth Volz dismissed the action after finding that Coats' use of marijuana was not a lawful activity.

 

It seems that that ends the complaint. Not a lawful activity.


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#6 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:28 PM

^  It is under State law.

 

But either way, it really has no bearing on his ability to do his job.  If Dish cared, they would not have taken this action and would have respected state law.


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#7 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:52 PM

The court ruled that his use of marijuana was illegal. You are asking DISH to look the other way when somebody does something illegal and violates their company policy?
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#8 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 05:07 PM

I'm saying Dish should mind their own business and not harass the disabled for something that does not affect their job performance.  This guy was obviously not driving company vehicles or operating equipment that could put others at risk.

 

Dish is clearly developing a track record for actions that are offensive to employees and customers.


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#9 OFFLINE   tsmacro

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:01 PM

This one is tough. While I can understand Dish's side here they've got to know that the state where they've decided to have their headquarters is Colorado and medical marijuana is legal there and is engrained as part of the local culture of the state, so maybe they should be more sensitive to the reality of their surroundings. I just keep coming back to where I'd hate to think my employer could fire me for what my doctor prescribed me or for that matter for the fact that I decided to have a couple beers after work in the privacy of my own home. As long as it doesn't affect my job performance or put my employer in a bad light and I'm not showing up under the influence it seems they should be willing to live and let live here so to speak. In any case this is probably going to end up mostly being more negative publicity for a company that doesn't really need any.




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#10 OFFLINE   tommiet

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:27 PM

I'm saying Dish should mind their own business and not harass the disabled for something that does not affect their job performance.  This guy was obviously not driving company vehicles or operating equipment that could put others at risk.

 

Dish is clearly developing a track record for actions that are offensive to employees and customers.

 

What does being disabled have to do with this????? Sound more like your PO'd about the employee getting fired for a positive drug test. 


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#11 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:28 PM

I agree this thread is misnamed.  It makes it sounds like they discriminated because he is disabled... but nobody, including the ex-employee is making that argument...  I think the thread should be renamed to reflect that the employee was fired because of his use of marijuana... not because he was disabled.


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#12 OFFLINE   356B

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:48 PM

A friend is publisher of our local newspaper owned by the mega giant "Media News". He is required to drug test everyone who wants to work at the paper. Marijuana is on the no hire list whatever the situation yet a potential employee can drink a fifth of Gin a night an they're good to go........ :coffee


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#13 OFFLINE   tampa8

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:06 PM

Some of you are way off base on this. There is no obligation to allow a employee to be on weed just as no obligation if they test positive for drinking. In Ct we had a seminar on this with the new law here. The employer is just as liable if on any drugs or drinking. Both by the way can now be legal that does make any difference.

Edited by tampa8, 30 April 2013 - 07:10 PM.


#14 OFFLINE   Volatility

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:24 PM

I do not even understand why marijuana is illegal in some states...www.foxnews.com/.../wash-judge-tells-to-police-to-return-marijuana-seized-in-traffic-stop-or-else

Justice! lol 


Edited by Volatility, 30 April 2013 - 08:41 PM.


#15 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 11:45 PM

I feel like I'm in the thread 5th grader suspended at nature camp for Swiss Army knife puzzling over why in the 21st Century people in this country are so afraid of making judgement calls.

 

Yeah, employers have the absolute right to drug test employees and even to terminate them if they fail the test.

 

But employers also have the right to decide to not terminate them, but rather to insist on some kind of treatment if appropriate. The real issue is does the employee constitute a problem in the workplace, not just whether he failed a drug test.

 

But hey, why not use a method any single purpose robot could accomplish - pass or good bye. The question is, why not hire a robot instead of an expensive supervisor, HR manager, vice-president of enforcing arbitrary rules,...?

 

I wonder how the North Koreans handle rule enforcement?

 

Like I said in that other thread:

 

I knew we were headed for a world where good judgement and common sense was to be replaced with inflexibility and rigid rules. I just didn't die soon enough to avoid seeing it running rampant. I'm internally invoking Godwin's law, but it's tough.

 

American children are literally being indoctrinated in the schools to believe that violations of rules must consistently result in a defined punishment. Any other outcome than the one stated would be unjust and risky. No judgement should be allowed in the administration of the punishment. Why would it be any different in the workplace. Or in society generally?

 

My new mantra: "don't violate Godwin's law, don't violate Godwin's law, don't...."

 

Oh darned. Does my comment about North Korea constitute a violation of Godwin's law? Well, not really. Because it literally references only one totalitarian government situation. And we don't deviate from the rule as written in this Country in the 21st Century.


Edited by phrelin, 30 April 2013 - 11:50 PM.

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#16 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 12:18 AM

I wonder how the North Koreans handle rule enforcement?


That is close enough for Godwin in my book.
 

Colorado follows the legal doctrine of "employment-at-will" which provides that in the absence of a contract to the contrary, neither an employer nor an employee is required to give notice or advance notice of termination or resignation. Additionally, neither an employer nor an employee is required to give a reason for the separation from employment.

The general principle behind the concept of employment-at-will is that the doctrine promotes efficiency and flexibility in the employment context. Employment-at-will allows employees to seek out the position best suited for their talents and allows employers to seek out the best employees for their needs.

An employer may not discriminate in terminating an employee. It is discriminatory to discharge an employee based upon disability, race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, and ancestry.
source


That final point is what is being alleged in this thread. That the former employee's disability was the reason for dismissal. It was not. It was the former employee's drug use that led to the dismissal. Drug users are not a protected class, and having that drug use ruled illegal by the court does not help the former employee's complaint.

Entering the land of speculation (a dangerous place) we could speculate that DISH could terminate an employee for legal drug use ... such as taking heart medication or chemotherapy. DISH didn't do that. If the court had ruled that the actual drug use was legal I might be on Brandon's side. But the lower court and the appeals court ruled his drug use was illegal. Having the drug use declared illegal certainly does not help Brandon's case.
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#17 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:16 AM

I also don't think the judgement-call scenario from that other thread applies here.

 

Consider...  Driving while intoxicated is illegal... whether or not you get into an accident.  IF you are pulled over at a license check, and found to be driving drunk, you don't get to say "but I didn't have an accident" and get away with the drinking and driving.

 

The scenario here is essentially the same.  This employee was using drugs that were determined to be used in an illegal manner, so he can't say "but it didn't effect my job performance" and get around the company's drug policy.

 

IF he had been using the drugs legally, then I could back the employee as it would be like getting fired for taking medication at home that didn't affect job performance.

 

We don't have another case to examine, I gather, so in this specific case... Dish was well within its rights to dismiss the employee.


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#18 OFFLINE   sregener

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:53 AM

The medical effects of marijuana use are well-documented, and arguing that its use will not affect job performance is at best dubious. 

 

That states have made the determination that the enforcement of drug laws is more damaging in the case of marijuana then the aforementioned medical effects for individuals does nothing to change this.



#19 OFFLINE   djlong

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 04:50 AM

I think the problem is this...

 

You can administer a test to see if someone is drunk.  You can't (easily) administer a test to see if someone has had alcohol in the past 'x' days.  Once the liver processes it all, it's pretty much gone.

 

You can administer a test to see if someone has HAD marijuana recently.  As far as I know, there's no "breathalyzer" for cannabis (and I'm more than willing to be corrected on this).

 

If you could easily tell the difference between someone being high and having BEEN high, you could regulate marijuana like alcohol - no showing up at work stoned, just like you can't show up at work drunk.



#20 OFFLINE   tampa8

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:09 AM

So now Dish or the US is like North Korea. And because Dish does not want someone high working for them. Wow. 






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