Darlington Fabrics Corporation offered Christie Callaghan a paid internship in its dye lab. Shortly after receiving the internship, Callaghan visited a human resources representative to discuss the position in more detail.
During the meeting, Callaghan disclosed that she suffered from debilitating migraines and was a medical marijuana cardholder under the state statute. According to the complaint, Callaghan reassured the employer that she would not bring marijuana to work nor would she use marijuana prior to coming to work. Following this meeting, Callaghan
received a phone call from the same representative and another employee stating the company could not employ her because of her status as a medical marijuana patient.
In her complaint, the graduate student is requesting the court to declare the company’s actions were unlawful and violated her civil rights as well as the Hawkins Smith Medical Marijuana Act. MJ anti-discrimination statute Rhode Island is one of the few states that addresses employee rights as medical marijuana users. It prohibits employers from discriminating against medical marijuana cardholders. Specifically, it states “a school, employer, or landlord may not refuse to enroll, employ, or lease or otherwise penalize a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder.”
Callaghan’s suit will be the first to address the anti-discrimination provision of Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law. The employer may challenge the law by attempting to provide an alternative reason for revoking Callaghan’s internship. The employer may argue a potential violation of the company drug policies or the risk of workplace
All events prior to the disclosure pointed to Callaghan receiving the internship without any issues. Unlike states such as California and Connecticut, Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law does not expressly state whether an employer is or is not required to accommodate medical marijuana use.
Procon — a charitable organization whose purpose is to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias,
researches issues that are controversial and important (such as this), and presents them in a balanced and comprehensive manner — states as of October 2014, there were 9,298 legal medical marijuana patients in the State of Rhode Island.
Employers in Rhode Island and other states with similar laws will watch the outcome of this case closely. As marijuana law reform continues, employers will continue to face concerns with how the changes will affect federal laws and workplace safety.
This case is Callaghan vs Darlington Fabrics Corporation, filed in the Superior Court of Rhode Island. Callaghan is represented by the ACLU in Providence, Rhode Island.
There most likely will be similar issues that will arise in Nevada. An issue has already arisen in one of my criminal cases. Many times in negotiated cases as a condition of probation, one can not use controlled substances. But is this fair to the medical marijuana patients? I have a client that is in Veterans court, who has run into this issue. The terms of his probation include no controlled substance use or that violates probation and will result in imposing the suspended sentence and the client goes to jail. There are also random drug tests. This is complicated because marijuana is fat soluble and can stay in your blood up to six months.
Can the court control what medication the client takes? Veteran’s court says yes. However, in some cases, I have been able to modify probation to allow using marijuana when the client has a valid, medical marijuana card. If the medication is legal, there should not be a penalty for using in my opinion. However, many DA’s beg to differ. I see lots of litigation surrounding marijuana issues in the next several years. — Mace