Wal-Mart sued for terminating worker for consuming marijuana

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By Carl Bagh | July 1, 2010 1:03 AM EST

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed litigation against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for firing an employee on charges of consuming marijuana for medical purposes.

The plaintiff accuses that Wal-Mart fired its Battle Creek Wal-Mart's 2008 Associate of the Year, Joseph Casias, who tested positive for the use of marijuana in an in-house drug test in spite of being legally registered under Michigan's medical marijuana law.

Casias suffers from a rare form of sinus cancer and brain tumor. He started using marijuana for pain relief under guidance of his oncologist who recommended him to try marijuana according to the state law. Casias obtained the appropriate registry card from the Michigan Department of Community Health to use marijuana.

"Medical marijuana has had a life-changing positive effect for Joseph, but Wal-Mart made him pay a stiff and unfair price for his medicine," said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU. "No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, and no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors."

Voters ratified the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, in 2008, which protects patients from arrest, prosecution and  penalty for consumption of marijuana for medical purposes.

Casias was fired in November 2009. He is married with two children and had joined Wal-Mart as an entry-level grocery-stocker in 2004 and was promoted to an inventory manger.

The plaintiff also said that Casias never smoked marijuana at work nor ever came to work under its influence.

Wal-Mart conducts on-the-job injury-related drug test as a means to protect its customers - which revealed that Casias was positive.

The accusation comes at the height of the debate whereby similar cases were filed in 14 states. Marijuana possession is still illegal under federal ordinance.

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