November 14, 2019 – Medical exceptions for medical cannabis use in Minnesota and nationwide have given employees more rights and leverage in the area of drug testing and job protection. If you are enrolled in Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Registry program, tested positive for marijuana and were denied a position, you may have a legal claim to compensation. Currently, our firm is pursuing a class action lawsuit on behalf of job applicants and employees of the Mayo Clinic who were subjected to the Clinic’s unlawful medical cannabis and drug testing policies and practices.
What laws protect employees using medical cannabis in Minnesota?
The Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (“DATWA”) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) protect employees from discrimination. DATWA requires that employers who drug test provide every individual with a legal valid drug testing policy and give applicants written notice of test results within three working days after receipt of results. We have filed a class action lawsuit against the Mayo Clinic for failing to comply with DATWA’s written acknowledgement and written test notice requirements.
Mayo’s practice of denying individuals employment for testing positive for medical marijuana, even though they are lawfully enrolled in Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Registry program, is an unfair and discriminatory practice in violation of Minnesota’s THC Therapeutic Research Act. Failure to hire or any other retaliatory action based on a positive marijuana test is also a violation of the MHRA for discrimination based on disabilities for those prescribed medical cannabis for the treatment of those disabilities.
Employee denied position even with medical prescription and lawful program enrollment
The class representative in Johnson v. Mayo Clinic, 55-CV-19-5659 (D. Ct. Minn. Aug. 9, 2019), was legally prescribed medical cannabis as part of her treatment of symptoms related to multiple sclerosis. In February 2019, the Minnesota Department of Health approved her application for the use of medical marijuana and since then she has used it to treat her symptoms. In May 2019, she applied for a position with Mayo and was offered the position after an interview. Prior to her orientation, she was informed that she would need to go through preemployment drug testing. She informed human resources that she was prescribed medical cannabis and offered to provide proper documentation showing her membership in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Registry.
After being informed that she failed her drug test, she was told she would have 72 hours to pay for another test. She declined a second test, understanding that the levels would likely not have changed due to her medical use of marijuana. Mayo Clinic then withdrew her job offer as a result of the failed drug test. The Mayo Clinic’s policy of denying employment to a legal medical marijuana user is equivalent to discrimination against disabled individuals who use cannabis to treat disability. In further violation of employee rights and Minnesota drug testing laws, the Mayo Clinic failed to obtain a signed acknowledgement from the employee that she had reviewed the drug testing policy prior to testing.
Members of the Mayo Clinic class action lawsuit
Our class action lawsuit includes a class of all individuals in Minnesota who were subjected to the Mayo Clinic’s unlawful medical cannabis and drug testing policies. If you were an applicant to or an employee of the Mayo Clinic and were asked to complete drug testing but were not given a copy of the drug testing policy or sign acknowledgment of receipt of the policy, you may be a member of this class and eligible for compensation.
What compensation can an employee collect?
In the event that a plaintiff or member of this class has been denied employment as a result of the Mayo Clinic’s unlawful drug testing policy and practices, an employee may pursue compensation and punitive damages. Our firm is aggressively seeking damages for any member of this class who was denied employment, including compensatory, emotional distress and punitive damages.
Minnesota laws prohibit discrimination against medical cannabis users
If you were recently given a drug test and denied employment because of a positive result and you are enrolled in Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Registry program, you may be eligible to file a legal claim against your employer. You may also be entitled to compensation if a potential employer failed to provide you with written notice of a drug testing policy. Please contact our firm for more information about the Minnesota Human Rights Act, DATWA or the Minnesota THC Therapeutic Research Act.
Wanta Thome PLC is committed to protecting the rights of employees who have suffered employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation. For questions about this lawsuit or about your employment rights, contact Shawn Wanta or any of our attorneys by clicking here.