Pennsylvania State Court Dismisses Student Discrimination Complaint Regarding Terms of Mandatory Drug Testing

A PA court denied a registered nursing student's claim requesting exemption from a Pennsylvania-based community college drug testing requirement due to her medical issues for which she was prescribed medical marijuana.

Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) rejected a student's request to be excused from a mandatory drug test conducted by the school's nursing program. The policy requires that students who test positive to a urine-based drug test be ejected from the program. The student contended that she should be excused from the requirement because she maintains a prescription for medical marijuana. Following the school's refusal, the student filed a discrimination complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

The case reached the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on appeal. In late October 2020, the Commonwealth ruled in favor of HACC and ordered that the woman's complaint be dismissed. The court determined that a nursing student cannot avoid drug testing even if the student has a prescription for medical marijuana.

The law permits punishment of medical marijuana users who pose a public health or safety risk while under the influence of the substance. Judge Patricia A. McCullough explained that "this provision would clearly apply to intensive care unit nurses or other nurses who are under the influence of medical marijuana while on the job or in training."

Following the decision, the judges urged the Legislature to revisit the law regarding medical marijuana and address gaps and review associated consequences. The judges noted that the central problem with the Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) is that when it was passed, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) and the Pennsylvania Fair Education Opportunities Act (PFEOA) were not amended to mandate accommodations for individuals who have been legally prescribed medical marijuana. Judge Anne E. Covey pointed out that this creates an issue because even though one may be authorized to use medical marijuana under the MMA, the individual will still face potential employment and education consequences due to PHRA and PFEOA preclusions. Additionally, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which further complicates the situation.

Pennsylvania employers are encouraged to review internal hiring protocols regarding drug testing to ensure that processes are in alignment with the terms of the MMA.

Posted: November 11, 2020

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Business Information Group, Inc.
This document and/or presentation is provided as a service to our customers. Its contents are designed solely for informational purposes, and should not be inferred or understood as legal advice or binding case law, nor shared with any third parties. Persons in need of legal assistance should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. Although care has been taken in preparation of these materials, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained within it. Anyone using this information does so at his or her own risk.

Thank you for your interest in Business Information Group. We have received your message and will contact you in one business day or less.
You have exceeded the number of attempts to submit this form. As a result, your IP address has been temporarily blocked.

Get In Touch

Send a Message *fields required

What are your Interests?optional

Contact Information

Even our RFP PROCESS is state-of-the-art.

Take a look

What our clients are saying

We cannot express enough how much we have enjoyed working with BIG! It has really benefitted our processing and ease of doing business!

Licensing and Registration Manager
Investment and Insurance Company

I enjoy collaborating with BIG, and know that if I have to reach out with a question/concern, a positive attitude with a willingness to find resolve is on the other side of an email or a phone call.

Human Resources Administrator
Global Financial Services Firm

You have been the most professional and most helpful business partner that I have ever been associated with — always there to assist us and with rapid turnaround times.

Principal Consultant
Major Professional Services Network

I am confident whenever we add a product with your company that I will have a good experience.

Division Manager
Insurance and Financial Services Agency

We have received superior service and we know this is what you and your team strive for. We are grateful for the dedication, level of professionalism and effort shown.

Large Insurance Agency

You are leaving

Ok, Continue Cancel