NEW CASE: New Jersey Federal Court Tests A Drug Testing Policy

A New Jersey federal court held that an employer is not compelled to waive drug testing requirements (including an accommodation for Medical Marijuana use) under either the Medical Marijuana Act (“NJCUMMA”) or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”).

In Cotto vs. Ardagh Glass Packing Inc.,  the plaintiff (Cotto) was a forklift operator injured on the job when the employer (Ardagh Glass Packing) required a post-accident drug test as a condition to return to work. The employee failed the drug screen due to several medically-prescribed medicines, including medical marijuana.

Ardagh Class Packing required the employee test negative for marijuana before returning to work and placed him on an indefinite suspension.

The court noted that marijuana is still prohibited federally and that New Jersey’s NJCUMMA states that “nothing in this act shall be construed to require . . . an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.” They also noted court decisions from California, Colorado, Michigan and New Mexico that did not protect employees from adverse employment actions involving medical marijuana use.

The federal court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that the requirement for a negative marijuana drug test in order to return to work constituted disability discrimination in violation of the NJCUMMA and the NJLAD and the employer is not required to “reasonably accommodate” the use of medical marijuana.