Colorado Citizen Sues Former Employer After Drug Test Led to Termination

With twenty-two states providing some form of medical or recreational legalization of marijuana, the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall feels that it is important to understand how federal law, state law, and employment negotiate marijuana use.


Fairfax, VA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/01/2014 -- Brandon Coats, a former employee of Dish Network in Colorado, was fired from his job after failing a random drug test. He filed a lawsuit against his past employer, which he lost in state court and at the appellate level, but Coats has appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Coats has a medical marijuana card to manage his painful muscle spasms, so his use of marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado. However, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which Dish Network argues gives them the right to fire him.

Additionally, Colorado’s recent legalization of recreational use of marijuana complicates matters further. Businesses are allowed to drug test at any time, and most do not differentiate between either having marijuana in your system or being under the influence at work. In fact, as more states relax their marijuana laws, many companies have started to issue drug tests and with higher frequency.

Until recently, companies could easily say that marijuana use was banned because it is illegal. But now, a person holding a medical marijuana card, or in a state where recreational use is legalized, is no longer doing something considered illegal. Colorado has a law that protects workers from being fired for legal activities while off duty, but the state courts argue that an activity must be considered legal under state and federal law to be protected.

“As Coats’ case moves forward, employers need to follow the trial closely because it will shape how businesses respond to employees’ protected rights outside of the workplace,” says Fairfax criminal attorney Faraji A. Rosenthall.

More court cases are likely to follow in states where medical or recreational marijuana use is legalized. While no decisions have been made at this time, it is clear that the relationship between employment, state law, federal law, and marijuana use is in flux and becoming more complicated.

“As we move forward, it is important to stay up to date and informed about how changes in marijuana legalization affect business practices, employees, and most importantly, their rights,” says Rosenthall.

For more information, please contact Rosenthall at: FairfaxCriminalLawyer.com.

About The Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall
With over ten years of experience in criminal cases in Fairfax County, The Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall currently offers legal counsel to individuals in Fairfax, Virginia and surrounding areas. The firm provides legal counsel in the areas of DUI, DWI, reckless driving, drug crimes including possession of marijuana and felony drug charges, juvenile crimes, violent crimes including domestic violence and assault, theft crimes including larceny, embezzlement, and shoplifting, probation violations, misdemeanors and other felonies, and traffic violations.

To learn more about the Law Offices of Faraji A. Rosenthall, visit http://www.fairfaxcriminallawyer.com.