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Turkey Product Producer Involved in Class Action Suit Involving Applicant Discrimination Accusations

Butterball, the nation's leading producer of turkey-based products, is accused of denying employment to an applicant based on his status as a medical marijuana patient.

Plaintiff Douglas Mohr lodged a class action suit in Arkansas federal court on October 5, 2021 claiming violations of Amendment 98 of the Arkansas constitution after Butterball denied him a position per his status as a medical marijuana patient.

Amendment 98 allows employers to maintain drug testing programs, deny employment for drug use on company property and refrain from hiring applicants that test positive for substances other than marijuana. However, the amendment prohibits an employer from discriminating against medical marijuana patients during the application process provided that the position is not formally designated as "safety sensitive." Mohr alleges that the position he applied for (Production Associate) was not designated in writing as "safety sensitive" on the application or in any other materials supplied to him by Butterball.

According to the complaint, Butterball extended Mohr a conditional employment offer contingent upon a passed drug test and physical. Mohr presented a copy of his medical marijuana card when he arrived at his drug test appointment. Mohr's test results were positive for marijuana and negative for all other substances. He alleges that he was subsequently escorted off the company premises and informed that "he was no longer eligible for hire as a result of the positive drug test for marijuana."

The proposed class includes all those denied employment by Butterball solely for their status as medical marijuana patients, encompassing the one-year timeframe prior to the date the lawsuit was filed. It is estimated that the class will likely include between 40 and 100 members. Beyond a class action status award and jury trial, Mohr is also seeking back pay, lost wages, benefits/other compensation denied or lost and reimbursement of legal fees.

Employers are encouraged to carefully review jurisdictional laws pertaining to drug testing in the pre-employment process and ensure that internal documentation is properly drafted in alignment with those laws.

Posted: October 18, 2021


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