Even though recreational marijuana has been legalized starting this year, this has had little to no effect on the number of employees’ complaints that they are being discriminated against by their employers due to marijuana use.
But things could change dramatically if California passes a new bill that bans employers in Los Angeles and elsewhere across the state from discriminating against their workers just because they use marijuana.
However, there are a few exceptions, our Los Angeles discrimination attorney Matthew A. Kaufman notes. First of all, the bill would protect only those cannabis users who have documented proof that they are medical marijuana patients.
Second of all, showing up to work visibly weed-impaired and unable to perform one’s duties would not be protected under the new bill, proposed by Assemblyman Rob Bonta and co-author Assemblyman Bill Quirk.
If an employee is visibly impaired, he/she could still be terminated by his/her employer even if the bill is signed into law.
Although workplace discrimination against marijuana users is not as widespread as discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender, and religion, it is nonetheless a serious issue.
Since the recreational weed was legalized on January 1, 2018, lawmakers have passed a variety of laws and regulations surrounding cannabis and its use. However, they failed to protect employees in Los Angeles and across California who can be fired for using marijuana. And these employers have no opportunity to sue the employer for wrongful termination, since discrimination protections for cannabis users are non-existent.
California has one of the most advanced laws protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status, marital status, religion, age, disability, or any other discriminatory ground.
Anti-discrimination protections are offered by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in California, which apply to employers with five or more employees. Generally, it is advised to file a formal complaint with the HR if you’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination, but that may not be the best option.
The thing is: some HR departments may protect their bosses from claims, ignore discrimination complaints from employees, or even silence workers who are subjected to unfair treatment in the workplace.
That’s why it’s highly recommended to hire a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer who would prepare the best legal strategy for your particular case to help you win maximum compensation.
It is important to note, however, that not all employers in California can be held accountable under the state’s anti-discrimination laws. California’s discrimination laws apply only to several types of employers:
There are also the deadlines to file a claim and lawsuit that must be taken into account. Our Los Angeles attorneys at the Kaufman Law Firm note that if you’re filing a complaint with Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), you must do it within 12 months (one year) from the date the discriminatory act took place.
When you received a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH, you can then file a lawsuit in civil court against the employer who discriminated against you. However, it’s essential to understand that in order to ensure that the DFEH approves your claim and entitles you to sue the employer, you need to be represented by an attorney.
Only a skilled lawyer can determine what legal options are available in your case, craft a personalized legal strategy, collect sufficient evidence and witness accounts, do a background check on the employer to see if other discrimination complaints have been pursued against him/her, and help you win compensation through a settlement or verdict.