Category Archives: Employment

Dude, Pass the Chips 2

 

Last April, I wrote the post, “Dude, Pass the Chips,” that mentioned a Colorado Court of Appeals decision holding that an employee does not have a claim against his employer for being fired for medical marijuana use. On June 15, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its decision affirming the Colorado Court of Appeals. You can read the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision  the Colorado Bar website

We now join the conversation in progress between Q and A from “Dude, Pass the Chips.”

 Q:        The Colorado Supreme Court is a buzz kill, man. Why can we be fired for using legal marijuana?

A:        Marijuana may be legal in some contexts under Colorado law, but it remains illegal under federal law. The Colorado Supreme Court said that an employee who uses marijuana in compliance with state law does not have a wrongful termination claim under Colorado’s lawful activities statute, because marijuana use remains illegal under federal law.

Q:        “Lawful activities” statute?

A:        Colorado has a statute that an employer generally cannot fire an employee for the employee’s lawful activities done outside of work hours and not on the employer’s property. There are exceptions, of course.

 Q:        But Colorado legalized medical marijuana and recreational marijuana!

 A:        Again, federal law prohibits any marijuana use outside of a narrow exception for federally approved studies. Colorado’s lawful activities statute does not limit the definition of “lawful activities” to activities deemed lawful under state law. Since federal law criminalizes marijuana use, its use is not a “lawful activity” under the Colorado statute. Some states with medical marijuana or similar laws included employee protections, but Colorado did not.

 Q:        But other states, even Georgia, are legalizing some form of medical marijuana. Doesn’t that count for something?

A:        It means public attitudes are changing.  Even so, federal law still classifies the use of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana as crimes. What is that smell?

Q:        I made brownies. Want one?

A:        What is in it?

Q:        Are you a cop? 

A:        I will pass, thank you.

This post provides general information only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to be legal advice about a specific situation.  Laws change and your situation may be different.  You should consult with a licensed attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

 

 

“Damn the Legalities! Full Speed with the Remote Wiping!”

     Dorothy, the new IT Director for the Golden Brick Road Company, took one look at the computer security protocols and said, “Hackers, spammers, and scammers, oh my!” A hole she saw was Golden Brick’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) practice. Golden Brick cut costs by ceasing to provide smartphones to its employees. Golden Brick instead allowed employees to use their personal devices to access company email, cloud storage accounts, etc.

     Dorothy thought it would be a good idea for Golden Brick to wipe those devices when an employee left the company or if the employee’s device was lost or stolen. She went to Golden Brick’s in-house attorney, the Wicked Witch of the West, and the CEO, the Wizard, with her suggestion. The Wicked Witch and the Wizard agreed that it was a good idea. Dorothy had a remote wipe program automatically upload onto the employees’ devices as they accessed the company’s systems.

     The Wizard instructed the Wicked Witch to draft a BYOD policy. It was the end of day and the Wicked Witch had to rush out to get to the Flying Monkeys’ soccer game. She planned to write the policy the next day. Unfortunately, it rained at the soccer game and the Wicked Witch was no more. No one drafted a BYOD policy.

     The Scarecrow, a Golden Brick employee, used his smartphone to access the company systems. A week after the Wicked Witch’s passing, the Scarecrow told Dorothy over lunch that he thought he lost his smartphone. Dorothy remotely wiped the Scarecrow’s smartphone. Fortunately (or not), the Scarecrow found the smartphone between his couch cushions. Everything on it was gone, from personal files to company data. The Scarecrow denied that he gave anyone permission to access his smartphone in that way. He hired a lawyer and sued Golden Brick.

     What is an employer to do? It is becoming more frequent for employers to allow employees to use their personal devices to access the employer’s systems. This may improve efficiency and cut costs while creating a potential security hole and a legal headache. The use of personal devices raises questions of what rights the employer may have to access or wipe the personal device. A BYOD policy may help. A well-written policy in place should outline for both employer and employee the rights and expectations either have when an employee uses a personal device to access the employer’s systems.

      Will the Scarecrow win his lawsuit over the remote wiping of his smartphone? Will Dorothy get her Ruby Slippers Bonus? Will the Wizard hire an attorney who is not water-soluble? A written policy could have helped answer one of those questions.

This post provides general information only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to be legal advice about a specific situation. Laws change and your situation may be different. You should consult with a licensed attorney for legal advice specific to your circumstances.

Dude, Pass the Chips

Some people are excited that legalizing marijuana is gaining traction at the state level.  However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law even if it is for “medicinal” use.  The tug-o-war between state and federal law over the legalization of marijuana raises questions for those in Colorado.  Grab some snacks to satisfy the munchies as you enjoy the following question-answer session.

Q:  Can I lose my job for smoking pot at home on my own time?

A:  The answer in Colorado is a qualified “yes.”  The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that an employer may terminate an employee for “medical” marijuana use.  The Colorado Supreme Court is reviewing that decision.  If you want to read more, I wrote an article for The Colorado Lawyer about medical marijuana and employment law that you can find here.

Q:  I have a warehouse I want to lease to a marijuana business that is illegal under state law.  Is this a good idea?

A:  Are you high?  That is a terrible idea.  Do you like prison?

Q:  I am too pretty for prison.  I will lease the warehouse to a marijuana business that is legal under state law.  Happy now?

A:  You are not out of the woods.  Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and federal drug laws can trump state drug laws.  The current approach by the feds to marijuana businesses that comply with state law can change at any time.  If that happens, anyone involved in the business could face prosecution and efforts by the federal government to seize property.  You had better take a hard look at whether that anvil could land on your head.  You also should find out what other risks are involved.

Q:  Stop harshing my mellow, man.

A:  Sorry.  So long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, getting involved with that business carries additional risks.

Q:  Do you have any good news?

A:  Yes.  I brought you some bags of Cheetos.

Q:  Excellent, dude!

This post provides general information only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to be legal advice about a specific situation.  Laws change and your situation may be different.  You should consult with a licensed attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.