Marijuana may be legal in several states, but smoking it can still get you fired

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Stoel Rives attorney Jim Shore recently sat down with Greg Lamm of the Puget Sound Business Journal to discuss the impact of marijuana legalization on employer zero-tolerance drug policies. Last Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that employers have the right to fire workers for smoking pot (PDF), even if they are legally smoking it for medical or recreational use.

Shore noted the Colorado ruling echoes a Washington State Supreme Court case he handled in 2011. Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management involved a woman who worked at a call center. Her job did not include operating heavy equipment or any other task that would raise an on-the-job safety concern. But her company did have a zero-tolerance policy. The Washington court ruled that the worker's otherwise lawful medical marijuana use did not entitle her to violate her employer's drug policy.

Shore said there are a number of reasons why employers have no-tolerance drug policies. These include customer requirements, government contracting requirements (e.g., the federal Drug Free Workplace Act), federal or state laws (including DOT requirements for transportation workers), workplace safety, productivity, health and absenteeism, and liability.

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"Marijuana may be legal, but smoking it can still get you fired" was published by Puget Sound Business Journal, April 26, 2013.

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James M. Shore
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