Tuesday, December 3, 2019

PA court recognizes private cause of action under Medical Marijuana Act

Under Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act (MMA):
No employer may discharge . . . an employee . . . solely on the basis of such employee's status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana. 
35 P.S. §  10231.2103(b)(1). But, can a fired employee sue their employer? According to the Lackawanna Court of Common Pleas in Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems, Inc., the answer is YES!

This is apparently the first decision (state or federal) to address this issue. The Court held that the MMA grants employees an implied right of action against their employers. The MMA's "anti-discrimination provisions would be rendered meaningless if an aggrieved employee could not pursue a private cause of action and seek to recover compensatory damages from an employer that violates Section 2103(b)."

It's still possible that appellate courts (or other jurisdictions within PA) will see this differently. For now, employers should proceed with caution in this area while we get some of these legal issues sorted out.

HT: Tort Talk, Case of First Impression Decided by Judge Nealon on Medical Marijuana Issue in Civil Litigation Context.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting post! With the expansion of medical marijuana laws it is only a matter of time before this (or something similar) is the law everywhere.