A Colorado man who was fired after testing positive for marijuana on a work-related drug test has had his employment lawsuit turned down by the Colorado Court of Appeals.
The 33-year-old man, who was paralyzed in a car accident during his teens, worked as a telephone operator for Dish Network. He became a medical marijuana patient in 2009, and was fired after testing positive for the drug the next year. The company never reported that the man was ever unable to perform his duties. He filed a lawsuit against the company in an attempt to recover his position, but his case was later dismissed by a judge who ruled that medical marijuana is not covered by a law that is designed to protect employees from being discriminated against for lawful behavior outside of work. This law is most commonly used to protect cigarette smokers from being discriminated against as a result of their habit.
The court ruled that for behavior to be considered “lawful” in Colorado, it must be compliant with both state and federal laws. Colorado allows both medical and recreational use of marijuana, but it is still a controlled illegal substance under federal statutes.
Because of this disparity, marijuana cases in states where its use is legal in any capacity are much more complex than other states.
Aside from the US Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 or the FLSA, which prevents discrimination against work and compensation, many other laws have been passed which would help ensure fair labor practice all across the US. Just a few of these laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Pay Act (EPA).
Despite all these federal decrees, many employers choose to turn a deaf ear to claims of discrimination, rather than addressing the unjust practices committed in their companies. And although an act of discrimination may oftentimes be obvious, many employees would find it hard to complain due to fear of being subjected to greater injustice or, worse, losing their job.
Discriminatory acts can inflict more and deeper harm that one can imagine. Oftentimes victims appear to be easily dismissing the issue; deep inside, though, the hurt can be much deeper. Not having any chance for promotion, getting lower pay compared to their peers, being laughed at by both their peers and supervisor, or never having been asked to participate in important meetings or company activities – these are just some of the unjust treatments employees may suffer from due to their age, race, national origin, gender, or disability status.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against in your workplace, you have every right to take action against the party responsible for the discrimination and pursue the equal treatment that you deserve under the law. If company policy cannot save you from the injustice you are suffering from, then it is likely that the best way to address the wrong done is through legal means.
Discrimination can have devastating effects on anyone and everyone in a workplace, and employers and employees alike should do everything they can to stop such illegal actions as soon as possible.
A lawsuit has been filed against Wal-Mart for the way the company fired a long-time female employee who is developmentally disabled.
The garden section employee was allegedly allowed to be sexually harassed by a male co-worker. This harassment included intimate touching, occurred during work hours on the store’s premises, and was allowed to continue for more than five years.
The lawsuit asserts that the company knew how this woman was being treated and made no effort to help her, punish the harasser, or stop the abuse. Instead, when the woman finally complained to her supervisors, she was promptly fired from her job, which she had held for 11 years.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the woman by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the government entity that is responsible for enforcing employment discrimination laws.
Employment laws in the US may differ from state to state, and there is no wrongful termination law that is universal for all states. In Texas, the practice of at-will employment makes it difficult to sue for wrongful termination except under specific circumstances. Employment lawyers will be able to assess your case for merit.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination is the dismissal or discharge of an employee under circumstances that breach employment law or an employment contract. These circumstances may involve one or more of the following:
- Any type of discrimination
- As retaliation for a claim of discrimination
- As punishment for an employee refusing to participate in anything illegal
- Failure to follow the company’s published (i.e. in the employee handbook) termination process
This is wrongful termination in general terms, but wrongful termination can mean different things from state to state. It should also be noted that a de facto legal relationship between an employer and employee is presumed in the absence of an employment contract, so the employer is still bound by a particular state’s employment law.
What is employment at-will in Texas?
Employment at-will means that an employer may decide to terminate an employee without providing a reason or cause. Employers in Texas and California often designate their employees under this category. The at-will statute, however, is not absolute. In most cases, if an employee can prove that their termination was due to discrimination or retaliation, then a case for wrongful termination may be brought against the employer.
It must be noted, though, that in Texas, the definition of wrongful termination is more stringent. The employee must prove that the termination was due to a refusal to perform or participate in a criminal act as defined by Texas or federal law. An act that construes a violation of civil law does not constitute an illegal act in this context. Dismissal due to an employee whistle-blowing on an employer for unlawful conduct is not recognized as a basis for a wrongful termination case, unless the plaintiff is employed by the government.
There are many ifs and buts in Texas when it comes to wrongful termination. Employment lawyers well versed with Texas employment laws, like the team at Melton and Kumler, would be the best judge of whether a wrongful termination case has merit or not.
“A laborer is worth his wage.” Whether you look at it from a moral or legal point of view, the message remains the same – any employee ought to be paid for every minute spent working.
There are numerous laws and regulations, both on the state and federal levels, which outline the protections that are to be given to workers, and this includes financial protections for individuals who work more than the standard 40 hour work week. One of the most important and well-known employment regulations is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 or the FLSA, also called the Wages and Hours Bill, a US federal decree which defined the legal numbers of hours of work per week, the national minimum wage, the allowable number of hours of work and legal pay for overtime, and the prohibition of the hiring of minors to perform “oppressive child labor.” In 1947 another law was executed, the Portal-to-Portal Act, which specified that all work done for the benefit of the employer, regardless of time, ought to be considered as work time under the FLSA and should, therefore, be compensated.
Despite these laws many employees still experience unfair wage practices in the workplace, resulting in unpaid overtime. While there are some employees who, because of the work they perform or their job descriptions, are exempt from overtime pay, even if they work in excess of 40 hours a week. Unfortunately, many employers wrongly classify employees as being exempt in an attempt to disqualify them from receiving time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 hours in one week.
Whether you are a temporary employee, a part-time employee, a full-time employee, an hourly or salaried worker, you may be entitled to overtime pay based on the requirements of your position. If you are a business owner, it is essential to familiarize yourself with overtime pay laws so that you don’t wrongly deprive an employee of earned overtime wages and face legal action in an overtime or wage dispute down the road. If you have experienced any unfair treatment at your workplace, seeking the legal consultation of an Austin employment attorney may be helpful for your situation.