Michigan WalMart Employee Fired for Medical Marijuana

Thought this was interesting because I’m focusing on WalMart…
Katy Warmels

Michigan Walmart Employee Fired for Medical Marijuana; Judge Upholds Employer’s Rights
Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben ā€“ Sun Feb 13, 1:12 pm ET
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Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. Joseph Cassias, a Battle Creek Walmart stock clerk, has an inoperable brain tumor. Cassias was fired from Walmart for medical marijuana use. A Grand Rapids judge ruled in favor of Walmart, despite the ACLU’s claim of unfair.

When Casius was fired from his job, the ACLU stepped in and filed charges against Walmart. The ACLU claims that because medical marijuana is legal when used with proper medical supervision, Cassias should not be fired for exercising his legal right to medical marijuana treatment for his brain tumor.

NPR’s Michigan Radio quoted Cassias’s ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman, who used parts of Michigan’s medical marijuana code in his arguments against Walmart. Michigan law states that patients, like Joseph Cassias who are under doctor supervised medical marijuana treatment are protected not only from arrest for use of the drug, but also from disciplinary and civil actions.

Michelman continues, “They (the ballot initiative’s authors) used the word business and prohibited disciplinary action by a business so that people like Joseph wouldn’t have to choose between their job and their medicine.” Michelman argues it’s a state issue that should be decided at the state court level.

Walmart states that while medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, Walmart has a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana use, regardless of purpose, even when an employee is not on company time.

Walmart spokesman Dan Rossiter said this of Cassias’s case: “This is really becoming more of an issue as more states allow this type of treatment employers like WalMart are left without any guidelines except the federal standard. And until further guidance is available we’ll always default to what we believe is the safest environment for our associates and our customers.”

Another ACLU attorney, Dan Korobkin states that safety was not an issue in Cassias’s case. Korobkin says, “Michigan law already provides that medical marijuana patients can’t come to work under the influence of marijuana and they can’t have medical marijuana with them while they’re at work and it’s undisputed that Joseph didn’t violate those rules. All Joseph did was he came to work every day, worked hard and he happened to be a medical marijuana patient.”

Other companies have instituted similar “zero tolerance” policies for marijuana and even alcohol. Sara Lee Foods in Zeeland, Mich., has a “zero tolerance” policy for alcohol. Sara Lee reserves the right to randomly test employees for drug and alcohol use. The legal BAL (Blood Alcohol Level) limit while driving a vehicle is 0.08 percent. Essentially this means that if an employee tests positive for any alcohol in his system at all, he may be fired.

A life-long resident of “Pure Michigan”, Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben cares about people, education, economy, tourism, natural resources, history, politics and social justice in Michigan. From “the big lake the call Gitche Gumee” to Detroit auto workers, from sandy beach to apple orchard to local neighborhoods, Marilisa covers Michigan for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.


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This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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