The city of Amsterdam, New York, owes about $200,000 after dismissing a medical marijuana patient who failed a cannabis drug test, a jury ruled in a lawsuit filed by a fired city employee. A jury found that the city discriminated against sewage plant worker Thomas Affolz, who was suspended in February 2020 and then fired after testing positive for marijuana.
‘They couldn’t fire him fast enough,’ says Affolts attorney Kevin A. Louisbrand said to Times Union. “They gave him a letter of dismissal on Monday and fired him the previous Sunday, so he couldn’t show his prescription card.”
New York State legalized the medical use of marijuana by passing the Compassionate Care Act in 2014, which went into effect in 2016. State law also grants registered medical marijuana patients disability status, which provides protection from employment discrimination due to cannabis use.
Dismissal of patients who failed drug screening
In 2017, Aforz tested positive for cannabis in a random drug test, but was allowed to continue working under a “last chance deal” with the city. Under the terms of the agreement, he was subject to dismissal for future violations of the city’s drug policy.
In 2020, Aforz also tested positive for cannabis in a random drug test, and was subsequently suspended and eventually fired. He then filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Supreme Court, alleging unlawful employment discrimination and failing to meet the disability requirements of the New York State Human Rights Code.
A year ago, when she tested positive on her second drug test, Aforz had been recommended medical marijuana for back pain. At the five-day trial before Judge Rebecca Slezak, Afortz’s attorney said Afortz had only used cannabis capsules “at home in the evenings when the pain was at its worst.” He pointed out that he had never used medical cannabis at work. According to court records, Affolz told city “agents” that he was an accredited patient of the state’s medical marijuana program and had a valid Department of Health certification for a prescription for medical marijuana at the time of the drug test. informed me that I was there.
The city “became aware of plaintiff’s prescriptions on multiple occasions, and thus of his disability, before plaintiff was dismissed,” the court filing states. “Defendant has not presented any evidence that Plaintiff’s marijuana use had any effect on his ability to perform his duties.”
“While the evidence indicates that Plaintiff was a competent worker and was able to perform his job safely and satisfactorily while receiving a prescription for marijuana, Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s use of marijuana affected his job performance. You have not provided any documented evidence that you have adversely affected “or endangered anyone,” according to court filings.
City attorneys argued that Affolz had not adequately notified the city’s chief of staff about his disability and medical marijuana prescriptions required by city policy. Instead, the city claimed that Affolz notified city engineer Mike Clark of the medical marijuana registration on March 5, 2020, after he had already been suspended for failing a second drug test. . City attorneys also argued that Affolz never offered a commitment that the prescription would not prevent him from performing “safety-conscious positions” such as using heavy machinery or working with hazardous chemicals. .
the jury decides in favor of the patient
A jury returned its verdict on June 30, finding the city to have discriminated against Affoltz for his medical marijuana use, and sentenced him to $191,762. He is also entitled to seek a judge’s reinstatement order and the city to pay legal costs.
“A jury found on March 16, 2020, that Amsterdam city officials refused to provide medical accommodation after Mr. Affolz informed the city that he had a prescription for medical marijuana following an unannounced drug test. Louisbrand said in a statement that he was present at public service hearings and no discussion was held about his medical condition. quoter Daily Gazette.
CEO Aaron Bloom Doc MJThe jury’s verdict underscores the importance of legislation to protect medical marijuana patients, said the medical marijuana physician practitioner who provides compassionate care to his patients.
“Respect for patients’ medical cannabis rights, especially in the workplace, is paramount. It is extremely important to ensure that it is done,” Bloom wrote in an email. high times. “Medical cannabis patients also have a duty not to report to work under the influence of cannabis that compromises workplace safety. By providing an appropriate environment and respecting the rights of employees with valid medical cannabis prescriptions, We can create an environment that fosters inclusion and supports individuals in managing their health conditions effectively.”