When legal, employers such as Dish Network do not always start out as the enemy of sensibilty and will not necessarily oppose consuming marijuana anymore than they will alcohol. This Denver Post article, “Colorado appeals court case debates question of off-dugy marijuana use“, incorrectly assumes that employers want to enforce the marijuana policies created in compliance with federal marijuana drug laws. In the first place, the legal department of companies the size of Dish Network will always insist on compliance to deter any liabilities. That is what legal departments are hired to do. Secondly, it’s management that decides on practices that effect productivity, morale; in a nutshell the policies for hiring and firing that provide the best return on investment. Lastly, Dish is not the instigator. This case is being brought against Dish by a previous employee where Dish can protect itself by fighting or settling out of court. Let’s hope that Dish decides to fight, loses the case, and sets an important legal precedent.
This case is based on Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute that prevents employers from firing workers because of the legal things those employees do outside the office — such as smoking cigarettes, for instance — as long as those activities do not conflict with the employees’ work.
Denver based Sherman & Howard’s labor and employment law attorneys represent management on all matters and disputes involving labor and employment law. Vance Knapp, is an attorney for Sherman & Howard so he’s wired to say that he expects the Court of Appeals — which has not indicated when it will rule on the case — to side with Dish Network.
Likewise, Coats’ attorney, Michael Evans, is previous Dish Network telephone operator Brandon Coat’s attorney who argues in his brief to the Colorado Court of Appeals that “It (Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute) should be broadly and liberally construed to effectuate its purpose, which is to protect employees from unfair or discriminatory employment practices when they are in full compliance with state law,” Evans writes in the brief.