Cannabis Security Firm Must Pay Overtime After Supreme Court Rejects Case

Colorado cannabis security firm Helix must pay overtime wages after its case was declined by the Supreme Court. The firm had argued that, because cannabis was federally illegal, industry workers were not protected by federal law.

Full story after the jump.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case alleging that a Colorado cannabis company failed to pay some security employees overtime they were owed, Law360 reports. Helix, the employer, has argued unsuccessfully in lower courts that because cannabis is outlawed under federal law, employees are not protected under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Robert Kenney, the former security employee for Helix, brought the suit against the company in 2017, claiming that the employer misclassified him and his fellow security guards as exempt employees, failing to pay them legally required overtime, the report says. The judge declined to dismiss the suit, ruling that FLSA application has nothing to do with the Controlled Substances Act.

Helix appealed to the Tenth Circuit, which affirmed the previous ruling and declined to dismiss the case in September 2019, according to Law360.

Helix argued to the Supreme Court that the Tenth Circuit decision broke from precedent that drug traffickers cannot access the same federal protections as legal business, which would include employees of federally outlawed businesses.

“In the absence of congressional action, which is not anticipated any time soon, this court should rule that an individual perpetrating a federal drug crime is not entitled to federally mandated compensation for their efforts.” — Helix, in a Supreme Court petition, via Law360

The rejection by the Supreme Court means the previous decisions will stand.

The nation’s highest court has previously rejected to hear cases related to legalized cannabis, including an appeal regarding changes to Montana’s medical cannabis law. The court has been asked to hear a case challenging federal cannabis prohibition but has not yet accepted or rejected taking it on.

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