What is a Medical Review Officer, and how could they potentially save businesses from legal disputes involving wrongful termination? An August Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling has cemented precedent on a medical marijuana cardholders ability to sue an employer for discrimination under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMA). During the case, the plaintiff stated that she shared her medical marijuana certificate with the testing lab and not her employer. It would seem that at no point did the employer ask for the medical marijuana certificate. The employer simply denied employment after the failed test results were delivered.
It appears one mistake made by the employer was not being aware of state drug testing laws. There is a difference between federal and state drug testing laws. You should either have an in-house expert or have access to competent legal counsel or resource materials that can help you formulate an appropriate response to this type of situation.
Another mistake is that it appears there was no Medial Review Officer (MRO) involved in the drug test evaluation process.
To avoid complex and potentially costly situations like this one, our advice for businesses is to rely on an MRO to play a larger role in evaluating the results of drug tests.
An MRO is an independent, licensed physician who is responsible for receiving and reviewing non-negative laboratory results and evaluating medical explanations for non-negative drug test results. Their ultimate goal is to preserve the accuracy and integrity of the drug testing process. We believe an MRO is a business best practice.
Critically, that means MROs follow federal law and share all results with the employer seeking them. When businesses partner with MROs, they can expect the MRO will conduct an interview with the donor to discuss possible reasons why a specimen tested positive for a drug
As mentioned earlier the MRO will follow federal guidelines in reporting the results of the interview with the donor and should report that the donor possesses a medical marijuana card.
This helps eliminate the risk for lawsuits like Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems, Inc., as previously outlined. Moving forward, it will be worth following similar cases with the newly establish precedent of wrongful termination under the Medical Marijuana Act. In the meantime, an MRO can keep your business from negligently slipping into trouble and keep you from rejecting excusable negative results
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com