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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
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We are a private owned manfacturing company in Chino, California.

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We are a private owned manfacturing company in Chino, California. Recently we had an employee injured on the job. The employee sustained some injury and was treated at our local health facility. Per our company policy, we require a 9 panel urine test following any accident. The employee tested positive for marijuana following the accident. Our company policy clearly states if an employee refuses to test or tests positive, their employment will be terminated. Employees are required to sign an understanding of this policy and the employee in question did sign the agreement. The employee states that he has a prescription for "Medical Marijuana." We have no way of knowing the timeline of the employee's use of the substance. If we terminate the employee for the policy violation, what type of repercussions could we face? Since he was injured, can he retaliate if we terminate?
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

Termination of an employee in retaliation for that employee exercising their right to workers compensation is illegal. However, if an employer can prove other legitimate reasons for the termination, then termination is not retaliatory in nature. Filing for workers compensation does not somehow make an employee "immune" from termination, and if that employee tested positive for drugs in violation of company policy, that would typically constitute valid grounds for termination, regardless of whether a workers compensation claim had been filed.

Termination of employees for prescription marijuana use is a contentious issue in the state of California. Specifically, new legislation has been in the works to outlaw discrimination in the workplace on the basis of medical marijuana usage. The bill is Senate Bill 129, which you can read the text of here:

To my knowledge, SB 129 has not yet become law and may never. Accordingly, it would appear that the present state of the law is that an employer is typically still free to terminate someone on the basis of marijuana use, even if that use is lawful and for a legitimate medical condition.

So to summarize, while it is illegal to terminate an employee "in retaliation" for filing a workers compensation claim, a termination is not "retaliatory" and thus not illegal if there is another legitimate basis to let the employee go, such as drug use. Prescription marijuana drug use presently remains a valid basis for termination.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

My absolute greatest concern is that you are satisfied with the answer I provide, so please do not hesitate to contact me with follow-up questions. Also, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.
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