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  • Dean Smith

Delaware Judge Rules in Favor of Medical Marijuana User Moving Forward with Lawsuit Against Former E

According to Claims Journal, Jeremiah Chance, a former yard equipment operator at the Kraft Heinz plant in Dover, DE, was fired in 2016 for testing positive for marijuana after an incident. Chance’s argument claims that he was retaliated against after making the company aware of safety issues with their railroad ties, and that the termination was in violation of the anti-discrimination provision contained in Delaware’s Medical Marijuana Act.

Claims Journal notes that according to the lawsuit, “Chance submitted an incident report to Kraft Heinz management regarding unsafe conditions of railroad ties at the Dover plant. The following day, after meeting with a maintenance supervisor and warehouse supervisor, Chance was operating a shuttle wagon on the railroad tracks when it derailed. He was asked to undergo a drug test, which was inconclusive, and underwent a second test a couple of days later. After being told that he tested positive, Chance informed a medical review officer that he had a medical marijuana card. He was fired 10 days later.”

The lawsuit also states that Chance’s firing was in violation of the medical marijuana law, “which says an employer cannot discriminate against a person based on his status as a medical marijuana card holder, or against a cardholder who tests positive for marijuana, unless the person used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana while on the job.”

Kraft Heinz argued that Delaware’s law is overruled by the federal Controlled Substances Act, indicating that marijuana is an illegal drug and is not an exception for medical use.

However, Superior Court Judge Noel Primos officially ruled in favor of Chance last month, ruling that Delaware’s medical marijuana law is not pre-empted by federal law, and writing that the law does not “require employers to participate in an illegal activity … but instead merely prohibits them from discriminating based upon medical marijuana use.”

Additional arguments were presented from both sides, however we are paying close attention to the fact that this appears to be the first of many cases to be encountered of this nature as these claims appear to be on the rise in Delaware. The attorney for Chance, Patrick Gallagher, stated, “It’s coming up repeatedly, employers trying to terminate folks who either have a card, and they know it, or who test positive for marijuana.”

We will be monitoring the progress.

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