New Jersey Cannabis Patient Sues Amazon for Wrongful Termination

A former Amazon employee in New Jersey who was fired after failing a drug test for cannabis is suing the online retail giant under a recent state law that prohibits employers from punishing employees for the legal use of medical cannabis.

Full story after the jump.

An Amazon employee and registered medical cannabis patient from Middlesex County, New Jersey is suing the online retail giant claiming he was wrongly terminated from his job at the company’s Edison distribution center after failing a random drug test for cannabis, according to an NJ Spotlight report. The plaintiff, who is identified in court documents as D.J.C., said he was “shocked” that he was the first medical cannabis patient the company had encountered.

D.J.C. worked as a warehouse associate for 10 months prior to the drug test and was fired a month later. He claims that company officials didn’t allow him to list the medications he was taking prior to the test and seemed confused when he told him he’s a registered medical cannabis patient.

“They had a zero-tolerance policy against illegal drugs, and to me that wasn’t an illegal drug. That was my medicine,” D.J.C. told NJTV News, adding that human resource officials told him he wasn’t being terminated but, instead, was being placed on “disability leave” while the company awaited paperwork from his physician.

Once Amazon received the paperwork, D.J.C. says, he was terminated for failing to tell them he used medical cannabis, citing Amazon’s zero-tolerance drug policies.

Walter Dana Venneman, the attorney for D.J.C., told NJ Spotlight that his client was given “three terminations, each for a different reason.”

“It’s almost like whack-a-mole. And what strikes me most in those three separate terminations, and it’s laid out in the complaint, is that at no point, ever, did they consider, ‘What might we work out with our good employee?’ Doesn’t matter if it’s medical cannabis, or it’s some other medication, or a limitation on hours. Whatever it is, they have to make an effort to make a reasonable accommodation. And they could’ve easily done that here. And my client did not come to work impaired at that workplace.” – Venneman, to NJ Spotlight

D.J.C. claims that the termination from the warehouse “blacklisted” him from other jobs at firms owned by Amazon, such as Whole Foods.

Last session, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill that prohibits companies from punishing employees because of their medical cannabis use so long as they are not intoxicated on the job and can provide their valid medical cannabis identification card. D.J.C. is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and punitive damages.

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