Marijuana and the California Workplace

Can employees in California smoke marijuana at their place of work? Or test positive for drug tests? While at least some states (including California) are allowing the use of medicinal marijuana and two more (Colorado and Washington) are allowing recreational marijuana use, federal law does not necessarily agree with its legality. In fact, courts consistently find that employers may terminate employees who test positive for marijuana, regardless of whether such employees are using marijuana to treat a disability; whether they were not under the influence on company time; or whether they used or possessed marijuana on company premises.

Recently, a California court confirmed that employers have the option of continuing zero-tolerance approaches to drugs, marijuana included. Specifically, employees may be disciplined or terminated for marijuana use (despite state statutes prohibiting discipline for engaging in lawful activity outside of work) and employers need not accommodate medical marijuana use as a disability-related condition.

How Should An Employer Respond to An Employee’s Request for Disability Accommodation

How is an Orange County employer supposed to respond to an employee’s disclosure of a disability? Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), your employer has a duty to make a reasonable adjustment for the employee’s disability – an adjustment or modification that allows the employee to do the job.  For purposes of the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, which can include basic tasks (walking, reading, bending, and communicating) and major bodily functions (functions of the immune system, digestion, bladder, brain, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive systems, to name a few). Almost 20% of the workforce includes employees with disabilities.

While under the ADA, an employer does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation for the employee if doing so would create an undue hardship, it is best to discuss your situation with an experienced Orange County employer lawyer if your request for an accommodation has been denied by your employer.

What Constitutes A Failure to Accommodate Under ADA?

A law professor who was suspended for allegedly engaging in an angry verbal exchange with a fellow school employee has filed suit against the law school, claiming that the school violated the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) when they declined to accommodate him for his apparent depression and Asperger’s syndrome. Under the ADA, an employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business.

The professor, employee of the John Marshall School of Law in Chicago since the mid-1980s, filed an ADA lawsuit in federal court seeking a removal of his suspension, lost wages, and emotional distress damages. Cornwell also filed a breach of contract claim unrelated to his ADA claim.

The EEOC’s Guidance on the ADA and Employers’ Leave of Absence Policies

Many Orange County employers are unclear as to the type and scope of legal protections available to employees with a recognized disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), employees are offered various types of safeguards, including the right to not be discriminated against because of his or her disability, and can seek “reasonable accommodations,” including a leave of absence, for their disabilities.

According to the ADA, employers are required, under certain circumstances, to reasonably accommodate an employee’s physical or mental impairment that limits a “major life activity” for that employee. One way in which employees have sought to be accommodated is by obtaining leaves of absence from their jobs in order to accommodate their disability. This can result in a conflict between employee and employer. Whereas an individual with a disability may feel a leave of absence is crucial to his or her health and well-being, employers often feel that extended leaves of absence are too disruptive to their business operations, and therefore not “reasonable”. Discuss your rights as an employee with an experienced ADA lawyer in Orange County.

Must an Employee Request a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination based on disability in a variety of contexts. Although the ADA offers wide-reaching protection, legal remedies for individuals with disabilities are not necessarily automatic. As a recent federal case illustrates, individuals with disabilities must take certain necessary steps prior to filing a lawsuit under the ADA.

For example, in order to establish a claim under the ADA for workplace discrimination, an individual with a disability must allege certain facts, or elements. First, the employee must show that he or she has a disability. An individual with a disability, as defined by the ADA, is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment. Second, the employee must show that he or she is qualified (with or without a reasonable accommodation) to perform the functions of the job in question. Lastly, the ADA plaintiff employee must show that he or she suffered discrimination based on his or her disability.

Should My Employer Allow Me to Telecommute?

With today’s technology, it seems that employees are able to work practically anywhere and at any time. Indeed, many Fortune 500 companies have adopted this more flexible approach to employment styles, known as telecommuting, often making life quite a bit easier for their employees. Does your California employer offer you the ability to work for home? If not, you may be wondering if he or she is breaking the law. Are California employers required to do, at least this in certain situations? Not surprisingly, the answer depends on the specific facts surrounding your employment, which an experienced employment attorney can discuss with you.
What does it mean to telecommute?
Telecommuting is often called a few things, including remote work, or telework, and involves is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a “telecommuter”, “teleworker”, and sometimes as a “home-sourced,” or “work-at-home” employee.