Medical marijuana use results in federal lawsuit against First Quality Tissue
A Clinton County man has sued First Quality Tissue of Lock Haven in U.S. Middle District Court, contending that he was wrongly fired in September 2020 for using prescribed medical marijuana.
Kevin Dennis of Renovo was hired July 2019 as a warehouse worker and said he informed the business management that he suffered from various ailments that required use of medical marijuana by prescription to manage the disability, according to the seven-county lawsuit in court this week.
Through his attorney, Dennis contends to having never reported to work under the influence of marijuana and when ordered by the business to perform a urinalysis in September 2020 was immediately terminated after the test results were returned as positive for him using the drug.
Dennis argued such termination was a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the state Medical Marijuana and Human Relations laws. His attorney, Manali Arora, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said his prior employer “failed to engage in an interactive process before he was fired.”
One month after being terminated, Dennis filed a complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to court papers.
The counts before Judge Malachy E. Mannion include: A violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding disability discrimination; a violation of the act — failure to accommodate; a violation of the act — retaliation; a violation of the state Human Relations Act — disability discrimination; a violation of the Human Relations Act — failure to accommodate; a violation of the Human Relations Act — retaliation and a violation of the state Medical Marijuana Act — discrimination.
Dennis asked for the court to enter an order providing that the defendant be prohibited from maintaining its illegal policy, practice, or custom of discriminating against employees or prospective employees based on their disability, need for an accommodation, and/or need for protected medical leave. He also is requesting First Quality Tissue to compensate, reimburse and make him whole for any and all pay and benefits he would have received had it not been for the actions taken, including but not limited to lost past earnings and future lost earnings.
Dennis is seeking an award of liquidated and/or punitive damages in an amount believed by the court as appropriate in order to punish the company for its “willful, deliberate, malicious and outrageous conduct and to deter the company or other employers from engaging in such misconduct in the future.”
Furthermore, Dennis asked the court to award him damages for emotional distress and/or pain and suffering and that his claims are to receive a trial by jury.
A summons has been sent to First Quality Tissue.
The human resources department at First Quality Tissue did not return a call requesting comment.