BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - A chain store is being sued after an employee said he waswrongfully fired when he failed a drug test.
Joseph Casias has a prescription for medical marijuana and sayshe uses it for pain from sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumorhe has been suffering from for the past 10 years.
He worked at the Walmart in Battle Creek for five years prior tohis firing in November 2009. He didn't use medical marijuana on thejob or before work. He hurt himself on the job, and after that, hada routine drug test. That is when the controlled substance wasdetected.
Casias, 30, told 24 Hour News 8 he showed his managers hismedical marijuana card, but eventually was fired anyway. He said heshouldn't have been fired in a state where medical marijuana islegal.
The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Michigan, inpartnership with the law firm of Daniel W. Grow, PLLC, filed thelawsuit against Walmart Stores, Inc. and the manager of its BattleCreek store.
The groups held a news conference Tuesday morning on the frontsteps of the Calhoun County Circuit Court to discuss the case.
In November 2008, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved theMichigan Medical Marihuana Act, which legalizes the use ofmarijuana for medical purposes. In compliance with state law,Casias received written certification from his oncologist and is aregistered medical marijuana patient.
According to the text of the law at Michigan.gov, it says peopleusing medical marijuana "shall not be subject to arrest,prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right orprivilege, including but not limited to civil penalty ordisciplinary action by a business or occupational or professionallicensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana inaccordance with this act."
But later on, it says, "Nothing in this act shall be construedto require ... An employer to accommodate ... any employee workingwhile under the influence of marihuana."
In a statement to 24 Hour News 8 late Tuesday afternoon, Walmart Media Relations Director Lorenzo Lopezsaid, "This is just an unfortunate situation all around.We are sympathetic to Mr. Casias' condition but, like othercompanies, we have to consider the overall safety of our customersand associates, including Mr. Casias, when making a difficultdecision like this. In this case, the doctor prescribed treatmentwas not the relevant issue. The issue is about the ability of ourassociates to do their jobs safely.
"This is becoming more of an issue. As more states allow thistreatment, employers are left without any guidelines except thefederal standard. In these cases, until further guidance isavailable, we will always default to what we believe is the safestenvironment for our associates and customers."
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