Former Employee Sues Arkansas Company Over Medical Marijuana-Related Termination

Erica Taylor filed a class action lawsuit on Thursday against Community Health Systems, Inc and Revenue Cycle Service Center, LLC alleging that they had wrongfully terminated her due to her status as a medical marijuana patient. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Western District of Arkansas Fort Smith Division, seeks class certification and favorable judgement regarding the defendant’s perceived violation of the Arkansas Constitution.

The defendants employed Taylor in a position where her job responsibilities entailed “using phones and software to help billing processes.” The plaintiff and defendant both deemed the position to be a non-safety-sensitive position. Taylor asserted that the defendants were aware of her status as a medical marijuana patient, and she reminded them again by explaining that she would fail a drug test when she was randomly selected for a drug screen by the human resources department. After failing the aforementioned drug test, she was fired from her position with the defendant.

Taylor argued that she was wrongfully terminated from her job, and that this was a violation of Amendment 98 of the Arkansas Constitution. The amendment specifies that employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees “based upon the employee’s status as a qualifying (medical marijuana) patient.” While employers may fire employees based on the use of drugs “on premises” or their use and subsequent qualification as a safety-sensitive employee, they cannot terminate employment for non-safety-sensitive employees due to marijuana use out of office, which were the circumstances that Taylor reportedly fell under.

This class action matter was filed on behalf of Taylor as well as “all persons who were denied or fired from employment by Defendants solely on the basis of their medical marijuana patient status.” She is citing injury from the Defendant’s practices of failing to hire medical marijuana patients, explaining that she was unable to find “similarly paid employment for some time afterwards.” When the defendants terminated her, they did so despite “their knowledge of law prohibiting such discrimination and knowledge of Plaintiff’s status” as a medical marijuana patient.

The plaintiff is represented by WH Law.