Pennsylvania: Federal Judge Says Fired Worker Can Sue After Being Terminated for Use of Medical Cannabis

Harrisburg, PA: A judge for the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has determined that a medical cannabis patient may pursue legal action against her former employer after she was terminated for failing a job-related drug test.

The judge denied a motion by the employer, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc., to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit. The plaintiff, a former security analyst for the company, registered with the state’s medical cannabis access program while recovering from spinal surgery. She was subjected to a drug screen upon her return to work and was fired after testing positive for the previous use of cannabis. The plaintiff argued that the action taken by her former employer was discriminatory and violates civil rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Although the suit may go forward, reporting from Bloomberg News indicates that the plaintiff must refile her lawsuit under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance.

In recent months, courts in various other jurisdictions – including Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey – have issued similar opinions affirming the rights of employees to lawfully use medical cannabis while off-the-job.

The case is Hudnell v. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc., No. 2:20-cv-01621.