United States Government defines disability as: a person with a physical or mental impairment that severely restricts one or more important life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived as such by others.
In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been incorporated into the law prohibiting discrimination against people with physical and invisible disabilities. Among its five titles is ADA title I., what applies to employment.
With this law one would think that the ADA protects disabled people with a law medical marijuana card (MMJ card) in their legal status. The truth is that Federal Government and the Disability Act Do not protect employees who use marijuana.
What is the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA is one Federal law on the rights of people with disabilities This prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public housing, commercial establishments, transport and telecommunications.
The law prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and trade unions from discriminating against qualified persons with disabilities during the application process when considering recruitment and layoffs, promotions and compensation, and other conditions and privileges of employment.
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The interactive ADA process
Workers and applicants with a disability / illness can request reasonable accommodation from their employer / potential employer to enable them to do the work in question. Examples of reasonable accommodation:
- Larger computer monitors
- Changed layer for treatments
- Moving to a new position
- Allowing breaks to take medication
When the employer learns about the illness / disability of the employee / potential employee, the employer must start the interactive process. Failure to do so is a violation of the ADA and grounds for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of the employee.
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Part of the interactive process is reviewing the essential professional functions the position in question. At this stage, employers and employees should identify potential barriers to performing the work. This includes learning the exact restrictions and type of accommodations that would be most effective.
The reason employers can turn down marijuana
During the interactive process, an employer can answer “no accommodation“If the accommodation is an invitation to consume medical marijuana (This is not the case in certain states – more on that later). This is permissible because marijuana / cannabis is still illegal nationwide.
cannabis Hemp is legal nationwide, but cannabis is marijuana (Cannabis with more than 0.3% THC) is not. Employers are allowed to discriminate against an MMJ cardholder / cannabis patient simply because of their medical form.
States that have laws protecting MMJ cardholders / cannabis patients
There are approximately 3,099,934 MMJ cardholders / cannabis patients in the US. Fortunately, a number of states have taken steps to provide state-level employment protection for patients with MMJ patients, including: Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and New Mexico.
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There is some level of protection for marijuana / cannabis use in these states. Other states have passed laws banning discrimination against MMJ cardholders / cannabis patients based on drug testing, including: New York, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, and Nevada.
Federal Employees / Contractors and the Federal Drug Free Workplace Act
For federal employees and contractors, forecasts are available at the federal level. Although the Federal Law on Drug-Free Workplaces calls on companies that sign a contract with the federal government to implement a zero-tolerance drug policy; The law does not regulate drug use outside of working hours and does not require drug testing.
It is important for employees and prospective employees to research laws for the state in which they are employed. It is also important to look at employers’ guidelines on medication / drug use. It is important to know your rights so that you can effectively discuss your needs and the employer’s obligation under state law.