Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Disability Discrimination Claim Based Upon Plaintiff's Use of Medical Marijuana Rejected


In the case of Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health System, Inc., No. 20-CV-2544 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Nov. 10, 2020 Nealon, J.), an employment litigation based upon a claim of disability discrimination, the court ruled that, since the Plaintiff’s allegation that she was a patient who was authorized by the state to use medical marijuana for certain medical conditions failed to amount to an allegation that she had a “disability” under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, the Plaintiff was found unable to state a claim for employment discrimination in violation of the Act. 

As such, the court sustained the Preliminary Objections asserted by the defense. 

The court found that it was free and clear from any doubt, based upon the fact alleged in the Complaint, that the Plaintiff could not establish the requisite disability under the PHRA. As such, the Complaint was dismissed.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Jan. 5, 2021).

UPDATE: Judge Nealon's decision was affirmed on appeal.  The appellate court opinion can be found at Palmiter v. Scranton Quincy Clinic Co., No. 498 MDA 2020 (Pa. Super. Aug. 10, 2021 Dubow, J., Bowes, J., Stevens, P.J.E.) (Op. by Bowes, J.).

In a case of first impression upon appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that an employee fired for their status as a certified medical marijuana user may sue for wrongful termination. The court noted that the Plaintiff could pursue a claim for wrongful discharge under the Medical Marijuana Act after her hospital employer discharged her for a positive drug test.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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