On March 27, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings Inc.
Background Facts: Justin Wild, a licensed funeral director, was employed by Carriage Funeral Holdings (Carriage). In 2015, Wild was diagnosed with cancer and was prescribed medical marijuana as part of his treatment. In May 2016, while working, Wild was in a car accident and was taken to an emergency room. Wild disclosed to the hospital that he had a license to use medical marijuana. Because Wild did not appear to be under the influence of marijuana at the time, the treating physician declined to perform a blood test.
The trial court dismissed Wild’s LAD and defamation claims, citing the New Jersey Compassionate Use Act’s mandate that that nothing “require[s] . . . an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.” N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14..
Bottom Line: As norms evolve with respect to the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, employers must be extremely careful with respect to employee use of marijuana. In New Jersey, the Compassionate Use Act allows employers to prohibit the use of medical marijuana at work and do not need to accommodate marijuana use at-work. The Wild decision is a reminder for employers to engage in the interactive process and exercise caution if an employee is using marijuana outside of work and is not under the influence on the job. Termination of an employee solely on that basis will be problematic and may lead to liability under the LAD.