Colorado Supreme Court rules in favor of workplace drug policies

By Shaun Zinck | Jun 23, 2015

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said she was pleased with the state's Supreme Court affirming a lower court's ruling that employer's can maintain a drug-free workplace.   Colorado Attorney General

DENVER (Legal Newsline) - Colorado employers have a right to a drug-free workplace after a state Supreme Court ruling last week, said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

The high court's ruling unanimously affirmed a lower court of appeals' decision in the case of Coats v. Dish Network. The lawsuit against the satellite provider challenged whether an employer had a right to terminate a worker after they tested positive for marijuana during a random workplace drug screening.

Coffman said while not all businesses will choose to go the same route, it's important to develop a standard that fits each business.

“We are pleased the Colorado Supreme Court agreed with our position in this case," Coffman said. "The court's decision allows Colorado companies the freedom to write their own employment policies regarding marijuana. Not every business will opt for zero-tolerance, but it is important that the latitude now exists to craft a policy that fits the individual workplace.”

Coffman's office participated in the argument before the state Supreme Court. Her office also filed a friend-of-the-court brief, supporting the “critical importance” of workplace drug policies for employers in Colorado, Coffman said.

The Supreme Court ruled that the state's lawful activities statute defines the term “lawful” as activities that are legal at both a state and federal level. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado, but not at a state level. So those that use the drug are not protected under the state statute, the court said.

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