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Unemployment Claims in an Era of Medical Marijuana

Mar 26 | 2019  by

Unemployment Claims and Medical Marijuana

When handling claims for unemployment benefits, Michigan business owners, managers, and human resources professionals need to be aware how medical marijuana impacts the claims process. The Michigan Employment Security Act (MESA) is the law responsible for unemployment benefits. Under Section 29 of MESA, a former employee (called the claimant) can be disqualified from unemployment benefits if he or she was fired for testing positive for controlled substances or for violating workplace drug policies.

Braska v Challenge Manufacturing Co. (2014)

However, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act grants patients immunity from “arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner” for the use of medical marijuana. In Braska v Challenge Manufacturing Co. (2014), the Michigan Court of Appeals found that unemployment is a state benefit, so denial of unemployment claims for legitimate medical marijuana users was an improper penalty. In fact, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency’s website mirrors the court of appeals decision.

Unemployment Agency Policies

But employees still don’t have free reign to use marijuana whenever and however they want. The agency may deny benefits if the test was positive due to workplace drug use or working under the influence. An employer seeking to disqualify a claimant on those grounds should have proof by thoroughly documenting the situation leading up to termination. Employer should have evidence showing claimant’s marijuana use at work like incident reports or affidavits.

Employers: What to Do

Employers should train management to identify and document the signs of impairment that follow marijuana use. When an improper unemployment benefits claim arises, that training will give you the best chance of success down the road.

If you have questions about Michigan’s unemployment law or need representation/training in unemployment claims, contact Fausone & Grysko, PLC. Our experienced team can advise you on how to protect your business from improper claims. Contact Fausone & Grysko, PLC today at (248) 380-0000 or visit us online at www.FB-Firm.com.