Can a medical marijuana patient be legally denied a job?

By | December 30, 2018

I can’t get a definitive answer on this. Can someone who is a patient in the New York State medical-marijuana program be denied an opportunity at a civil-service career? If denied, would this be grounds for a lawsuit?

There is a good reason why you can’t get an answer, because case law continues to develop on this. Medical marijuana in New York was legalized by the New York Compassionate Care Act (CCA) in 2014. The CCA also says that patients who are certified for medical marijuana use shall not be subject to “disciplinary action by a business” for using it. Also, being a certified patient is the equivalent of having a disability under the New York State Human Rights Law. Together, the CCA and NYSHRL ensure that New York employers can’t terminate or refuse to employ an individual on the basis of certified medical-marijuana use. However, marijuana in any form is illegal at the federal level, and that is where the tension is. In July, the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act was introduced to allow federal workers to legally use marijuana without risking their jobs. So, this continues to evolve. Meanwhile, pursue employment and consult an attorney.

I did it. I did everything you said not to do. I drank too much at the holiday party and made a fool of myself. I didn’t do anything egregious, apparently. I was just a sloppy drunk. Can I recover? Can I repair my reputation?

I’m trying to be big here and not say “I told you so!” If your behavior was harmful only to your reputation, you still need to apologize to your boss and colleagues. Own the mistake, promise that it will never happen again and hope the company moves on. Over time, and assuming you never repeat it, your reputation will recover, although your friends may needle you forever. (“Dude, remember that party when you . . . ?”) If your behavior resulted in a harassment complaint or crossed the line, you need to apologize profusely, ask for forgiveness and throw yourself at the mercy of the company and the offended parties. In that instance, you may or may not be able to save your job and reputation.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. E-mail your career questions to gotogreg@nypost.com. Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His Go to Greg podcast series is available on iTunes.

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