Local man files lawsuit saying he was denied job for using medical marijuana

A local man claims was denied a job because he tested positive for THC even though he is a registered medical marijuana card holder. MORE: https://bit.ly/32If3Tz Subscribe to WPXI: https://on.wpxi.com/YouTube Connect with WPXI online: https://www.wpxi.com/ Download our FREE apps: https://wpxiapps.com/

A local man claims was denied a job because he tested positive for THC even though he is a registered medical marijuana card holder.

Attorney Christine Elzer is working on the case, and she said it's a first for her, but it will not be her last. Her client, Derek Gsell, was denied a job he had been offered because he tested positive for THC, even though he's authorized to use medical marijuana.

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Elzer said her client should have felt confident in taking the required drug test, but, after Universal Electric Corp. in Cannonsburg saw the results, the company sent him a letter, saying:

"This is to inform you that the job offer we made to you on August 26th, 2019 for the position of Supplier Quality Engineer, is no longer available due to your positive drug screen results we received on September 12, 2019. Due to this we are rescinding our offer of employment."

"Pennsylvania law that was passed in 2016 is clear that an employer in Pennsylvania may not refuse to hire or discharge an employee based on their status as a medical marijuana user," Elzer said.

But it may not be that cut and dried. Some employment attorneys said this situation is a consequence of state law versus federal law.

"I think employers often rely on federal law," Elzer said.

Employment attorney Jean Novak said employers can get around hiring medical marijuana users because federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, like heroin and other drugs with high potential for abuse.

Novak said there's a provision in Pennsylvania law that says nothing in the Medical Marijuana Act requires the employer to violate federal law.

"I think many employers look at that and say, "Well, then I don't have to have registered patients working for me," Novak said.

We also reached out to the attorney for Universal Electric Corp. twice, but we haven't heard back.

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