Court Rejects Bias Claim of Licensed Medical Marijuana Caregiver Fired from Restaurant for Selling Drugs

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An Outback Steakhouse employee who was fired for distributing drugs to a co-worker despite her status as a licensed medical marijuana caregiver has lost her suit alleging the termination was the result of age discrimination.

Plaintiff Bobbie Henry worked at an Outback in Flint, Michigan, where one of her marijuana patients was also an Outback co-worker. Henry and several other workers were terminated for selling drugs on the restaurant premises. When interviewed, Henry admitted she had sold medical marijuana to a co-worker.

The court found that even though Henry had a Michigan medical marijuana card, “state medical-marijuana laws do not, and cannot, supersede federal laws that criminalize the possession of marijuana,” and that marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The court rejected Henry’s claim that her sales to a patient cannot be a basis for termination. Instead, the court found that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act does not impose restrictions on private employers and does not provide protection against disciplinary actions by an employer.

Henry’s age discrimination claim failed as a matter of law, the court said, because she was unable to show that Outback’s stated reason for her termination – selling drugs – was a pretext for age discrimination.

The case is entitled Henry v. Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC (E.D. Mich., decided 4/18/2017).

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