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Supreme Court ruling boosts medical marijuana user employment protections

Gabroy Law Offices
Posted at 9:44 PM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 15:18:09-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Nevada Supreme court made a significant decision for medical marijuana users Thursday, effectively declaring employees have the right to sue their former employers if they were terminated for using the drug off company time.

Jim Roushkolb filed the lawsuit in the Eighth District Court in November 2019.

Roushkolb has used medical marijuana for years as a prescribed medication and has a medical marijuana card.

"It relaxes me," he said.

Roushkolb said he uses THC to quiet the memories of a brutal 1995 attack outlined in the original lawsuit where a former inmate assaulted him in his car after he left work as a corrections officer in Ohio.

"He opened the door, and he grabbed me, and he just hit me in the head with a pipe," he said, "and just started beating me in the head, and he took his thumb and jammed it in my eye like that and tore my retina."

Roushkolb said the medical marijuana eases severe PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health issues stemming from the attack.

His attorney, Christian Gabroy, said the drug got him fired in 2018.

"This company, Freeman, knew the law," Gabroy said.

He said a convention organization company, Freeman Expositions LLC. fired Roushkolb after he tested positive for THC following an incident in the workplace.

The lawsuit claims a plexiglass sheet fell on the worksite and shattered, and employees were given drug tests.

Gabroy said Freeman Expositions knew Roushkolb had a medical marijuana card but fired him anyway, and Roushkolb said that's why he filed the suit.

"The company acted discriminatory, this company violated his rights, and this multi-jurisdictional, multi-million dollar company, they terminated him in violation of Nevada law," Gabroy said.

Freeman Expositions moved to get the lawsuit's multiple charges dismissed in District Court, but when the court refused to dismiss several claims, Freeman Expositions appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Freeman declined to comment when reached by KTNV staff.

In the Supreme Court, however, the company argued that Nevada law doesn't allow Roushkolb to sue for wrongful termination in this case, and Roushkolb never requested accommodations for his medical marijuana use.

"Like corporations normally do, they want to fight us tooth and nail," Gabroy said.

Thursday, the Supreme Court partially ruled in favor of Roushkolb's wrongful termination suit, writing that the lawsuit could continue on one of four remaining complaints.

Roushkolb said Gabroy called him after the ruling came down.

"Today, when he called my it was just amazing," he said.

Gabroy said the ruling sets a landmark precedent that companies can be sued if they fire someone for marijuana use off company hours while holding a medical card.

"Nevada has stepped up today and realized that the balance needs to be that a man can medically take his medication," he said, "whether that be THC medication, whether that be some cancer curing medication, for gods sake, whether that be a Polio vaccination, right, he has the right to do that."

In the same decision, the Nevada Supreme Court made a clear distinction that those employment protections don't extend to recreational marijuana use.

The Supreme Court ordered the case back to District Court for consideration.

Gabroy said he and Roushkolb were excited for the case to reach a trial.