Petrillo & Goldberg Law Blog

New Jersey workplace accident lawyer

Judge rules employer does not have to permit employee’s marijuana use

A federal judge ruled a Bridgeton glass factory can indefinitely suspend a worker because he uses medical marijuana.

The worker, Daniel Cotto Jr., sued Ardagh Glass after the employer did not allow him to return to his job as a forklift operator after a workplace accident in November of 2016. Court documents show Cotto hit his head on the roof of a forklift at the factory.

When Cotto wanted to come back to work, Ardagh would not let him because he could not pass a drug test. Cotto said he uses marijuana, which was prescribed by a doctor, to deal with pain from a “severe neck and back injury” he sustained in 2007.

Cotto argued Ardagh violated the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), which legalized the drug for medicinal reasons. Ardagh argued marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

“It is plain that CUMMA does not require Ardagh Glass to [waive its requirement Cotto pass a drug test],” the judge said. “Ardagh Glass is within its rights to refuse to waive a drug test for federally prohibited narcotics.”

New Jersey’s law states it should not be “construed to require . . . an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace,” the judge added. Cotto has worked at the factory since 2011 and claimed Ardagh knew he took prescription medicine when he was hired.