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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in Drug Testing (8)


Maine Department of Labor Directly Clarifies Its Position on Drug Testing & Marijuana

Based off of information received in a Portland Press Herald article, we previously noted that the Maine Department of Labor Director of Policy, Operations and Communications, Julie Rabinowitz, reported to the legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee that businesses with Maine-state drug testing policies should not test job applicants and workers for marijuana, because even if the tests came back positive, employers cannot fire the individual.  The Maine Department of Labor issued a press release shortly after the article was posted (and after our initial blog post) noting that this interpretation would only be relevant if the legislature does not change the current language of the statute prior to February 2018 when the law takes affect—at this time, however, employers may permissibly refuse to hire an applicant who tests positive for marijuana. 

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Letters from the Workers' Compensation Trenches

I am just back from an invigorating seminar put on by the national group to which we belong as the sole Maine member, the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network and want to share some highlights. This year’s seminar, held in Chicago on September 22, included presentations on lots of relevant topics, but a few really inspired me.

The seminar kicked off with a panel including risk managers from retail, healthcare, trucking and manufacturing discussing various innovative ways to “Make our Work Comp Program Great Again!” The panel discussed claims costs management tactics including creative medical management systems, initiating early investigations and setting workable and real metrics to measure progress in claims management. Next, we learned all about traumatic brain injuries, including the medical science behind legitimate claims and signs of illegitimate claims. A session on reducing narcotic use featuring a risk representative from a large national retail chain was also very well-received and timely. But one of the most informative session, in my humble opinion, was presented as an “ad-on” by my colleague from Washington State, attorney George Goodman and it is this session that I’d like to bring to our reader’s attention.

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Beer Distributor Appeals NLRB Finding as to Terminated Union Employee Who Reeked of Marijuana

Appellate briefing to the Second Circuit was completed earlier this week in Manhattan Beer Distributors LLC v. NLRB, a case in which the NLRB, in 2015, held that Manhattan Beer Distributors violated an employee’s Weingarten rights when they terminated a distribution employee who “reeked” of marijuana after he refused to submit to a drug test without a union representative present.

In NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. (1975), the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee has a statutory right to request a union representative during an investigative interview which the employee reasonably believes could result in disciplinary action. In the current action, the question was whether the submission to a drug test was “an investigatory interview” which would thus result in the employee having Weingarten rights.

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Dude, I Think He’s High…Can I Fire Him?

Oftentimes clients ask, “When we think an employee is high, can we fire him?” My answer is consistently the same, “That depends.” It depends on a whole host of factors, what state do you live in, what industry do you work in, why do you think he’s high, but most importantly, what is your risk tolerance?

In at-will states (of which many are), an employer can terminate an employee for any reason as long as it is not in violation of a law. The problem is, the list of laws which protect employees continues to become longer and longer. Employee protections related to the use of controlled substances is no exception. We see the ADA, state marijuana laws, OSHA, state drug testing laws, and other fair employment practices laws consistently affecting the marijuana in the workplace analysis.

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Tractor Supply Co. Plowing New Terrain in Medical Marijuana Law

Last week, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico issued a memorandum and order granting Tractor Supply Company’s Motion to Dismiss in Garcia v. Tractor Supply Co. The Plaintiff, Rojerio Garcia, suffers from HIV/AIDS and was using medical marijuana under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”), N.M. Stat. Ann. § 26-2B-1, to help to treat his condition. Mr. Garcia applied for and was hired for a position as Team Lead and took a drug test, which tested positive for cannabis metabolites. As a result, Mr. Garcia was discharged from his position. Mr. Garcia brought suit alleging his termination violated New Mexico’s Human Rights statute and that the CUA requires Tractor Supply Co. to accommodate his medical marijuana use.

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Employer Successfully Parses the Haze in the Land of Enchantment

Recently, New Mexico employer Presbyterian Healthcare Services successfully defended a claim of disability discrimination after terminating a Physician's Assistant who tested positive for medical marijuana. The case, Smith v. Presbyterian Healthcare Services, involved a Physician Assistant, Donna Smith, who through a staffing agency, Advantage Locum, applied for and was hired for a position on February 17, 2014. After obtaining the results of a drug test, however, Presbyterian Healthcare Services discovered that Ms. Smith had tested positive for marijuana. Ms. Smith responded that her use of marijuana was pursuant to New Mexico'a Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, 26-28-1 NMSA, and was to assist with her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Presbyterian, however, terminated her employment on February 21, 2014.

As a result, in June 2014, Ms. Smith filed suit in state court alleging that she was discriminatorily terminated and Presbyterian had improperly failed to accommodate her serious medical condition in violation of New Mexico's Human Rights Act. After discovery, Presbyterian filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that it is a federal contractor which accepts Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements and thus must comply with the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Accordingly, in order to receive these government contracts (for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement), the Company had to provide a drug-free workplace--and thus the Company's termination of Ms. Smith was not discriminatory. The Court agreed, granting summary judgment in the Company's favor.

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