So enforcing federal law is now discrimination?
Now that Arkansas has approved the cultivation of marijuana and is near approving permits to dole the weed out to pot smokers complaining of certain ailments I am going to be interested in how employers, particularly those with federal contracts deal with new and existing employees who fail their mandatory drug testing requirement.
Ralph, I have always been told that federal law take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions. I happened to do a little research and found that Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution, commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause, establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law does indeed take precedence over state laws.
Now then Ralph, how is it then that a federal judge rule just recently in Hartford, Conn. that a nursing home, which had cited federal law against pot use, violated an anti-discrimination provision of the Connecticut’s medical marijuana law and ruled in favor of a health care worker who was denied employment for failing a drug test?
I found it disturbing that the Connecticut decision was the first ruling of its kind in a federal case and followed similar recent rulings against employers by state courts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Earlier rulings had gone against medical pot users in employment cases by state supreme courts including those in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington over the past few years.
Naturally pot smokers are overjoyed over the federal judge’s ruling and hope there will be a growing acceptance of pot use for medicinal reasons, which I am sure will expand to recreational use of marijuana despite a clear violation of federal law.
The reason for my interest in this particular situation stems from the fact that since Arkansas voters approved the use of pot for supposedly medical purposes lawmakers as well as those charged with setting the specific rules, accepting and approving entrepreneurs wanting to cultivate and sell marijuana has been nothing less than a disaster.
As you know Ralph, the appointed commission created to determine who can grow pot and who can sell it have been sued over alleged discrepancies in their process and have even had to hire an outside company to approve who will be the lucky few to open up shop and sell marijuana in Arkansas.
The next controversy I see happening may very will involve employers, especial those with federal contracts afraid they may be in violation of federal law by hiring individuals who fail their mandatory drug test. And, I am sure, after learning about the aforementioned case in Connecticut they may have concerns over potential lawsuits filed by job applicants who failed the drug test or even employees fired over their inability to pass a random drug test.
This federal judge’s ruling made it clear that this health care facility discriminated against this job applicant based solely on her medical marijuana use in violation of state law. I found it laughable that this woman even attempted to collect punitive damages and is even seeking compensatory damages for lost wages from not getting the job. Now Ralph, it is bad enough that there is clearly confusion over federal and state law but for this woman to think she deserves punitive damages as well as compensatory damages is absolutely ridiculous.
I have to say that this is a very significant case that throws the issue in doubt for many of these federal contractors as well as every employer in Arkansas. I see heap of trouble brewing over this in the months ahead and would hope lawmakers clarify this issue before concerned Arkansas employers find themselves defending themselves in court.
By Michael Coulter