Delaware Judge Allows Medical Cannabis Patient To Sue For Wrongful Termination

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog

In 2016, Delaware resident Jeremiah Chance was working at the Kraft Heinz plant in Dover as a yard equipment operator when he was terminated for failing a company drug test. At the time, Chance had begun using medicinal cannabis for relief from back problems and other health issues that had caused him to take frequent medical absences.

According to court documents, Chance submitted an incident report to company management on August 9, 2016, after observing some railroad ties at the plant that posed safety risks. When he talked with warehouse supervisor Michael Doughty about it, he was told that the company did not have to abide by the United Facilities Criteria.

After showing the hazardous conditions to another warehouse supervisor and two bulk operators, a shuttle wagon that Chance was operating on the railroad tracks derailed the next day.

Following the incident, Chance submitted to an inconclusive drug test and then a second screening a couple of days later which yielded a cannabis-positive result. He told a medical review officer that he was a registered medical marijuana patient and presented his card for verification but was fired ten days later.

Chance claims that Kraft Heinz violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Delaware’s Persons with Disabilities Employment Protections Act, Delaware’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, and the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act (DMMA) which prohibits discrimination against patients as long as they are not impaired by marijuana when they are working or using it at their place of employment.

While Kraft Heinz argues that federal law and the Controlled Substances Act preempt the DMMA and that they were legally justified in terminating Chance, the Court disagreed.

“The DMMA does not require employers to participate in an illegal activity,” wrote Superior Court Judge Noel Primos in the Opinion and Order. “But instead merely prohibits them from discriminating based upon medical marijuana use.”

Judge Primos ruled that Chance’s lawsuit against Kraft Heinz would be allowed to continue and upheld the plaintiff’s claim that he had been targeted due to his complaints about workplace safety conditions, though he dismissed the man’s claims that the company violated any disability acts in the termination.