Tag Archives: Lawful Activity

Brandon Coats v. Dish Network LLC, 2015CO44 (June 15, 2015)

“The federal government shouldn’t be swooping into Colorado to decide how we regulate marijuana any more than it should be swooping in to Louisiana to tell them how they should regulate fried crawfish.” – Rep. Jared Polis. Coats is a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair. He got a medical marijuana license to treat painful muscle spasms caused by his quadriplegia. Coats consumes medical marijuana at home in accordance with Colorado law. After testing positive for THC, Defendant fired him under a zero tolerance drug policy. Coats sued because generally, an employer cannot fire “any employee due to that employee’s engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.” CRS 24-34-402.5(1). The Court upheld both lower court decisions finding that “lawful” is not limited to state law. Because pot is illegal under Federal law, its use is not “lawful.”

https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2013/13SC394.pdf

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Colorado Supreme Court to live video stream oral argument in 13SC394 (Brandon Coats v. Dish Network, LLC.)

Coats v. Dish Network (covered by the CLR) raises two issues that have generated a great amount of interest by the public:

Whether the Lawful Activities Statute, Section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S., protects employees from discretionary discharge for lawful use of medical marijuana outside the job where use does not affect job performance.

Whether the Medical Marijuana Amendment makes the use of medical marijuana ‘lawful’ and confers a right to use medical marijuana to persons lawfully registered with the state.

The Lawful Activities Statute protects employees from termination for off-the-job activities. Plaintiff, a quadriplegic, is licensed to use medical marijuana. Defendant fired plaintiff after he tested positive for marijuana, which was a violation of its drug policy. The court of appeals, applying the ordinary meaning of “lawful activity” as used in section 24-34-402.5, held plaintiff’s medical marijuana use, unlawful under federal law, was not “lawful.”

Because demand for seats in the courtroom outweighs availability, the Court will live stream the arguments on the Internet and the Court will live stream the argument in the first floor Court of Appeals courtroom.Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, 9 to 10 a.m.

Live video streaming can be accessed through: http://broadcast.coloradorcjc.gov/

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Charlotte Ruiz v. Hope for Children, Inc., 2013 COA 91 (June 6, 2013)

Never date a client. Plaintiff was fired from her position for dating a client. She worked for a small nonprofit that provided clients with education, counseling, and other social services. She sued for wrongful termination, claiming that the Lawful Activities statutory exception to at-will employment protected her actions. That statute creates an exception from at-will termination for lawful off-the-job activities. An exception to that exception is that an employer may fire an employee to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. The court of appeals held that such conflicts are not limited to financial conflicts or conflicts that actually interfere with work. Finding the evidence sufficient to support termination, the court affirmed dismissal of plaintiff’s suit.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Opinion/2013/12CA1556-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8975&courtid=1

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Brandon Coats v. Dish Network LLC, 2013COA62 (April 25, 2013)

Despite rumors to the contrary, the use of medical marijuana is not a “lawful activity” under Colorado law; at least not under CRS 24-34-402.5, the Lawful Activities Statute protecting employees from termination for off-the-job activities. Plaintiff, a quadriplegic, is licensed to use medical marijuana. Defendant fired plaintiff after he tested positive for marijuana, which was a violation of its drug policy. The court of appeals, applying the ordinary meaning of “lawful activity” as used in section 24-34-402.5, held plaintiff’s medical marijuana use, unlawful under federal law, was not “lawful.” Although defendant defeated plaintiff’s claim, it was not entitled to attorneys’ fees pursuant to CRS 13-17-201, mandating fee awards, because the claim was not a “tort.” First, it is not an invasion of privacy tort and second, it lacks the general characteristics of a tort.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_Of_Appeals/Opinion/2013/12CA0595%20&%2012CA1704-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8922&courtid=1

CERTIORARI GRANTED

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