Labor & Employment Law Daily No ADA claims for fired city employee whose CBD use for anxiety resulted in positive drug test
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

No ADA claims for fired city employee whose CBD use for anxiety resulted in positive drug test

By Kathleen Kapusta, J.D.

The cultural arts program specialist, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had been taking CBD in capsule form to treat her anxiety.

A bipolar municipal employee who used cannabidiol (CBD) to treat her anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other symptoms, and who was forced to resign after failing a drug test required for promotion to a full-time position (she tested positive for marijuana), failed to show that the individual responsible for her forced resignation, the city’s HR director, knew about her disability, a federal court in Tennessee ruled, granting the city’s motion for summary judgment against the employee’s ADA disability bias claim. Although she talked to her supervisor about her use of CBD to treat her various symptoms, even telling her she had researched CBD usage and the risks of a positive drug screen, and there was also evidence her supervisor’s boss knew of her disability, there was no evidence they told the HR director, or anyone else in the HR department, of her bipolar disorder and anxiety (Hamric v. City of Murfreesboro, September 10, 2020, Campbell, W., Jr.).

Nor could the employee advance her failure-to-accommodate claim. In her resignation letter, she recommended that the city revise its drug policy to address the issue of CBD use, writing “If you can not accommodate for the use of CBD or the possibility of a failed drug screen as a result of its use, your employees need to be made aware that they can face termination or resignation for using a legal, over-the-counter vitamin supplement.” While she asserted generally that modifying a workplace policy is a reasonable accommodation when necessitated by an individual’s disability-related limitations, absent undue hardship, she failed to point to any evidence showing her requested accommodation was necessary to “address a key obstacle preventing [her] from performing a necessary function of [her job.]“

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