The One and Only Medical Marijuana Wrongful- Termination Lawsuit in Washington

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Yesterday, medical marijuana lawyer Doug Hiatt told Daily Weekly that each week he receives three to four phone calls from freaked out employees worried that they're going to lose their jobs because they tested positive for THC. Now we know that one of those employees has actually filed a lawsuit. One that's made it all the way to the Washington Supreme Court.

Back in 2006, "Jane Roe" interviewed for a job at TeleTech, a Colorado-based firm with an office in Bremerton that offers customer service work for telecommunications companies.

For years, Roe had suffered from crippling migraine headaches. Her lawyer, Michael Subit (pictured above), says that his client had tried every kind of prescription drug.

They either they didn't work at all or the side effects were so bad that "the cure was worse than the disease." Eventually, however, Roe found something that kept the pain at bay: marijuana.

During her interview, Roe told TeleTech that she smoked. She told them she would fail a drug test if she was forced to take one. Still, TeleTech hired her and gave her the test anyway.

Subit says Roe worked for two weeks answering phones without incident. Then, one day, she was called into her boss's office and told she'd failed the drug test, just like she said she would. Roe was fired, told that TeleTech couldn't have an employee working at its offices who smoked marijuana at home.

Her wrongful termination suit was dismissed by a Kitsap County trial judge, a decision which was then upheld by the Court of Appeals. The Washington Supreme Court has accepted the case and will hear arguments during its winter session.

Only one case nationally other than Roe's has made it to such a high court. California's Supreme Court decided that because the use of marijuana remains a crime under federal law, an employer there was justified in firing a person who, like Roe, had used the drug for medicinal purposes.

But Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the A.C.L.U., says that Roe may have a fighting chance because of the nuance in Washington law.

"All the medical marijuana statutes are different state-to-state," she says. "In Washington we have strong public policy to protect patients from discrimination, from being harmed. That might make a difference."

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