A federal judge ruled against Walmart in a recent lawsuit for terminating an Arizona employee who possessed a valid medical marijuana card after a drug test of the worker came back positive, the Phoenix New Times reports.
U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg ruled last week that the company violated the nondiscrimination provision in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act by eliminating the employee even though it couldn’t prove she was impaired by using the drug at work, according to the local publication.
Joshua Carden, an attorney representing Carol Whitmire, called the judge’s ruling the “first of its kind in Arizona” in a statement to the Phoenix New Times on Tuesday.
“No court has officially decided whether a private right-of-action exists under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, so that was a big part of the decision,” Carden said.
Whitmire, who had worked for Walmart for eight years, was let go after she suffered an injury on the job in May 2016, according to court documents seen by the publication. She had reportedly been leveling bags of ice when a bag fell on her wrist.
She was transported shortly after the injury to urgent care, where she was subsequently administered a drug test in accordance with Walmart policy.
Whitmire reportedly informed the Walmart human resources department of her cardholder status shortly after incident and continued to work with the company until early July.
On July 4, she was reportedly suspended due to the urine sample results and fired by her manager on July 22, the lawsuit alleges.
Whitmire, who said she uses marijuana to treat her arthritis pain, then reportedly filed a discrimination charge against Walmart with the civil rights division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2017.