In a landmark case that’s being case watched across the country, the Colorado State Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Coats v. Dish Network over the company’s marijuana policy this week.
Recreational marijuana use might be legal in Colorado, but employees can still be fired for using it. That’s what happened in 2010, when Dish Network fired Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient after he failed a random drug test. Coats was working as a phone operator and said he was never high at work, but he’s been unable to find new employment because potential employers are concerned about his off-duty smoking. Coats was paralyzed in a car crash as a teenager and started using medical marijuana in 2009 to calm violent muscle spasms that made it difficult for him to work.
The 35-year-old took the case to trial, arguing his termination violated employee rights because medical marijuana is legal in Colorado. Advocates argue that it’s a violation of privacy to test for a legal substance. But a court disagreed, as did an appeals court. Now, the state Supreme Court will be weighing in on the matter.
The outcome of this case is expected to set a a precedent for similar lawsuits by employees who are fired for smoking marijuana in states where marijuana use is legal.