Mass Court Picks Pot Case to Remind Employers That Discussions of Accommodation Are Needed
July 17, 2017
A medical marijuana case set the table for Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court to remind employers that there needs to be discussion of accommodation whenever a worker claims to have a debilitating medical condition.
The worker in Barbuto v Advantage Sales and Marketing LLC had a prescription from a doctor to treat Chron’s disease with medical marijuana. After applying, she got a job offer and accepted it. Learning that drug tests were mandatory, the worker told the Human Resources department about the condition and treatment. Pot use showed up in the testing.
The employer fired the worker and, key to the decision about the employer’ duty, was the employer’s failure to even discuss reasonable accommodation. Rules require the employer to engage in “the interactive process” of discussing the worker’s health condition limitations and possible work-arounds. In reinstating the case, the Court did not say the worker could stay, just that the discussion about reasonable accommodation for the worker and possible undue hardship for the employer was a talk that needed to happen.
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