Can my boss fire me for having a PA Medical Marijuana Card?
In April 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law PA's Medical Marijuana Act ("MMA") 35 P.S. § 10231.2103(b)(1), giving Pennsylvanians access to medical marijuana for the first time. The groundbreaking legislation offered hope to many chronically ill residents. In addition to giving permitting the use of medical marijuana, the law states:
No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.
But what does that mean? Can you sue your employer if they fire you for having a medical marijuana card? While the Supreme Court of Pennslyvania has yet to rule on whether or not the law grants a private right of action to employees, the Eastern District joins Lackawanna County and at least four other courts, saying that it does. In Hudnell v. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc., No. 20-01621 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 25, 2020), the court stated: "But there is no mistaking the General Assembly's intent to protect employees from discrimination in Section 2103(b)(1)." And went on further to hold: "To ensure medical marijuana patients can realize those benefits without fear of adverse employment actions, the legislature included Section 2103(b)(1). Thus, a private remedy “is consistent with the purpose [and] spirit” of the MMA."
This is great news for Pennslyvania workers who before had to choose between effective treatment for their illness and their employment. If you feel that you have faced discrimination due to having a medical marijuana card in Pennslyvania you should contact an attorney right away to discuss your rights.