Ms. Noffsinger, a Connecticut native, received a job offer from SSC Niantic Operating Company (“SSC”) that was later rescinded when she failed a routine pre-employment drug screening. SSC rescinded the offer despite knowing that Ms. Noffsinger had a medical marijuana certificate because she suffered from PTSD. Noffsinger sued in Connecticut federal court, arguing the employer violated the prohibition in the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (“PUMA”) against firing or refusing to hire someone who uses medical marijuana. PUMA permits the use of medical marijuana by “qualifying patients” with certain debilitating medical conditions. See http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?dcpNav=%7C&q=509628.
In response, SSC tried to convince the federal district court judge to dismiss Ms. Noffsinger’s PUMA claim. It primarily argued that PUMA is invalid because it conflicts with certain federal laws. In denying the motion to dismiss, the judge relied on the Act’s legislative history to conclude that PUMA permits individuals to file their own civil case. Secondly, the judge found that PUMA is not preempted by federal law.
This decision represents a big win for Connecticut workers who use medical marijuana. Employers should be aware of the decision and take this opportunity to review or revise their drug and pre-employment screening policies. Monarch Law helps employers by: (1) revising existing employment policies and procedures to comply with current laws and regulations, or (2) creating a comprehensive employment policy manual.