The Colorado Supreme Court affirms freedom for businesses, but only under Government Control.
I don’t know that I agree with the way Dish Network treated their former employee Brandon Coats. In fact, it seems kind of cruel to me, if it is true that Coats had a real medical need. According to the Denver Post,
Coats became quadriplegic in a car accident and used marijuana to control leg spasms. He had a medical marijuana card and consumed pot off-duty. He was fired in 2010 after failing a random drug test.
If Coats was doing his job, then I don’t think a legal use of medical marijuana was a reasonable excuse for firing him. It would be good to petition the company and perhaps organize a boycott and negative publicity events.
The fact that the company refers to its policy as “zero tolerance” also raises a red flag with me. That is typically a passport to irrational and cruel behavior.
But employment is a voluntary agreement between too parties. I can understand some rules for “surprise” firings according to unknown criterion (i.e. if a firing was unpredictable and capricious, I could see a case for some kind of mandatory severance for the fired employee). But the bottom line is that a company does not answer to employees or to anyone else about who they decide to hire or fire. A company should have the same right to fire an employee as an employee has to fire the company by quitting.
(Frankly, maybe we ought to start proposing laws for “wrongful resignation” so that people would begin to understand how wrong these “wrongful termination” laws really are.)
So the outcome seemed right on the surface:
In a 6-0 decision, the high court affirmed lower court rulings that businesses can fire employees for the use of medical marijuana — even if it’s off-duty.
But it was a horrible decision, insulting even further the right of free association and ravaging the Tenth Amendment.
Colorado has a law which says that companies can’t fire employees for their legal behavior.
At the crux of the issue was whether the use of medical marijuana — which is in compliance with Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Amendment — was “lawful” under the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute.
It would be wonderful if the Colorado Supreme Court had struck down the Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute as a violation of the basic right of free association. It is only a matter of time before that offense to freedom is invoked to force Christian schools and churches to be prohibited from firing people who have adopted sinful lifestyles (i.e. homosexuality, cross-dressing, etc).
But they didn’t. Instead, they made state law secondary to our Federal masters. They ruled that the state law does forbid employers from ending their association with employees for legal activities. But state law can’t make a practice legal. The activity must also be legal at the Federal level.
“Therefore, employees who engage in an activity, such as medical marijuana use, that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute,” Justice Allison H. Eid wrote in the opinion.
This decision allows businesses freedom in this one instance, but they are still ruled by the Feds. Basically companies only have the right to decide if they want to hire drug users if the Federal government gives them permission to do so.
And if the Federal government ever legalizes marijuana use, immediately businesses will be punished for not wanting to hire people with a drug habit.