Losing a job for a failed drug test is not an uncommon occurrence, however losing a job due to marijuana in Nevada is questionable. Now that Nevada has completely legalized marijuana use for adults, it could be argued that marijuana consumption should be looked at just like alcohol. An employer would fire an employee if they were intoxicated while at work, but not just for the fact that they drink alcohol. Why would marijuana be viewed any differently if it is legal?
Scott Nellis was a nurse at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas up until last year when he failed a urine test after being attacked by a patient. He had an eight year tenure with the hospital. He applied and attained a medical marijuana license after an incident at the hospital in 2013 left him with a fractured vertebrae, but claims that at the time of the test he was not under the influence of marijuana and that the test simply picked up the trace amounts of THC that was still circulating through his system. He is now suing the hospital for wrongful termination.
“Backed by our mission to surround our patients with caregivers who are dedicated to healing above all else, we strongly believe we acted appropriately and we are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves in this case,” said Sunrise spokeswoman Fran Jacques.
Nellis’ lawyer said he hopes to take it to a jury trial and the Supreme Court to set precedent.
“This is a fight that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. It’s amazing. It’s a new civil right of the 21st century,” said attorney Christian Gabroy.
In February 2017, Nellis was again attacked by a patient and treated for injuries at an emergency room, where he was asked to provide a urine sample. After the sample tested positive for marijuana, the hospital told him in early March that he was suspected of working while impaired in violation of company policy.
Nellis argued that marijuana shows up in tests as long as a month after the substance is ingested and maintains that he was not under the influence while working.
“I was unaware that I had, and do not believe, I did anything wrong,” Nellis wrote on a disciplinary form ahead of his firing.
This case could certainly set a precedent for any state that has legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, and for anyone that has attained a medical marijuana license in particular. The fact that the judge did not throw the case out implies a great deal. Will employers be forced to view marijuana just like alcohol in the near future?