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Why The BC Human Rights Tribunal Ruled This Medical Marijuana Patient Was Discriminated Against

The BC Human Rights Tribunal rules on a variety of cases, including those around medical marijuana use at work.

In previous articles we have looked at two cases, French v. Selkin Logging and Wilson v. Transparent Glazing Systems, to gain insight into how to manage medical cannabis in the workplace.

Today we look at the case of Old v. Ridge Country Contracting. In this case, 25-year-old William Old was employed as a heavy equipment operator with Ridge Country Contracting based in northern British Columbia, Canada.

Old suffered from a life-long illness that involved seizures. He had stopped using his seizure medication due to side effects and had a medical cannabis prescription. He found the cannabis to be more effective than the pharmaceutical drugs.

Old disclosed to his employer that he was using medical cannabis. The employer then asked him to provide evidence of his ability to operate heavy machinery while using cannabis. The doctor's note Old submitted indicated he should remain seizure free if he complied with the consumption of his medication.

Unsatisfied with the doctors' note, Old's employment was terminated by Ridge Country Contracting due to perceived safety risks. The employer submitted that their actions were justified.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal rejected this though, because the employer did not request any further information from Mr. Old's doctor about the cannabis use. Additionally, the employer did not engage Old in a process of mutual accommodation.

What went wrong?

The employer has a responsibility to seek the appropriate medical evidence to support a termination where a disability is in play. Ridge did not follow through on this responsibility and simply terminated Old.

As we have discussed in other articles, the employer has a duty to accommodate a disabled employee and any treatment that follows. In this case, Ridge didn't try to accommodate Old, further proving their discriminatory actions.

Alison McMahon is a workplace expert based in Alberta, Canada and the Founder of Cannabis At Work. Follow her onTwitter and LinkedIn where she provides overdue commentary on weed and work.

Note: This article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice of any kind.


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