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Delaware Court Rules Medical Marijuana Patient Can Sue Former Employer

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Jeremiah Chance was terminated from his job at Kraft Heinz Foods Co. for failing a drug test. Heinz has had a valid Delaware medical marijuana card since 2016. Following a workplace accident, Chance had to submit to a drug test.

Chance told the Medical Review Officer that he used medical marijuana, Lexology reports. Despite his card status, he was terminated. The circumstances surrounding his termination seem a little fishy, though.

Chance filed a complaint stating discrimination and OSHA retaliation, later including Americans with Disabilities Act violations and the Delaware Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. His complaint was also amended to include wrongful termination claims.

In Delaware, the medical marijuana law says that, “an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment… if the discrimination is based upon either of the following: a. The person’s status as a cardholder; or b. A registered qualifying patient’s positive drug test for marijuana . . . unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during his hours of employment.”

Kraft Heinz is insisting that federal law preempts state law.

The court responded to Kraft Heinz’s statement indicating that Delaware employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees because they use medical marijuana. Their argument was rejected.

The court ruled that Chance can move ahead with his lawsuit, but cannot advance with the argument of Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

This is the 3rd case in just 2 years where a court has ruled on the side of the medical marijuana patient in terms of federal law preempting state laws.