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Congratulations Matthew Fogelman in his groundbreaking win in medical marijuana case at the Mass. Supreme Court

Massachusetts court rules for woman fired for medical marijuana use

Nate Ramond

BOSTON (Reuters) – Massachusetts’ top court on Monday ruled that a woman who had been fired for testing positive for marijuana that she had been legally prescribed under state law could sue her former employer for handicap discrimination.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected the former employer’s argument that she could not sue it for handicap discrimination because possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Lawyers for the former employee, Christina Barbuto, said the ruling represents a major win for employees in the state and set a precedent that they said could have an impact in other states where medical marijuana is legal.

Barbuto had accused Advantage Sales and Marketing[1] of firing her after her first day of work because she tested positive for the drug, which she had been prescribed by a doctor to treat low appetite, a side effect of her Crohn’s disease.

Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote that if a doctor concludes medical marijuana is the most effective treatment for an employee’s debilitating condition, “an exception to an employer’s drug policy to permit its use is a facially reasonable accommodation.”

“The fact that the employee’s possession of medical marijuana is in violation of federal law does not make it per se unreasonable as an accommodation,” Gants wrote.

The unanimous six-judge panel’s ruling noted that only the employee, not the company, could have been subject to prosecution under federal law for her drug use.

Massachusetts voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana in 2012, joining the majority of U.S. states that allow for the drug’s medical use. State voters in November went further, legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Matthew Fogelman, Barbuto’s lawyer, called the ruling a “groundbreaking decision.”

“This is the highest court in Massachusetts recognizing that the use of medically prescribed marijuana is just as lawful as the use of any prescribed medication,” he said.

The ruling reversed a decision that dismissed Barbuto’s 2015 handicap discrimination claim against the company. It upheld the dismissal of other claims.

Michael Clarkson, a lawyer for the company, said it was considering its options. He said the company’s lawyers are “confident that our client acted in accordance with the law.”

Barbuto said in her lawsuit that she had been prescribed medical marijuana to treat her Crohn’s disease, which coupled with irritable bowel syndrome, left her with little appetite.

After she started using marijuana, Barbuto said she was able to maintain a healthy weight.

[1] Not affiliated with Advantage Payroll Services

Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis. Original report can be found by clicking here

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The SOLE® Paperless Trees Project and Why Your Corporate Social Responsibility Opportunity is Right in Front of You

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Published on June 9, 2017
by Lindsay Wilson | Follow on LinkedIn
Director of Marketing at SOLE Financial

Since 2004, we’ve helped businesses of all sizes eliminate paper payroll checks by empowering the unbanked workforce with direct deposit. Utilizing a combination of direct deposit to traditional bank accounts and our innovative paycard solution, companies are able to reach 100% direct deposit participation, saving time and money for payroll managers and employees. This reduces the paper waste of payroll checks, saves trees and reduces the carbon footprint of companies in the process. Since paperless payroll is in the DNA of SOLE it seemed natural to add a tree planting incentive to our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy.

Much like making sure everyone in your organization gets paid on time and accurately, achieving 100% participation is no small feat. Organizations are constantly hiring and churning employees. Many people who receive a paper check have an emotional or cultural attachment to the tangible nature of paper checks, despite the high cost and inconvenience of check-cashing services. To recognize this achievement, we wanted to do something significant. That’s where SOLE’s Paperless Trees Project comes in.

Originally scheduled to launch in Q3 of this year, the recent decision by our elected officials to exit the Paris Agreement has made it abundantly clear that businesses need to step up to address climate change. With the launch of our Paperless Trees Project (PTP), we join communities, local governments, and businesses like Gap, Facebook, Google, Morgan Stanley, Adobe, etc. to combat climate change and remain aligned with the goals of the cause. When clients reach 100% direct deposit, we will plant a grove of trees in their name and work towards clean air; one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen, enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.* To further commemorate their accomplishment, they’ll receive our limited edition PTP water bottle. By using a reusable water bottle you can eliminate (on average) 167 disposable water bottles per year.**

You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to roll out a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. At SOLE, we started small, building from employee benefits to community service days, to our official Paperless Trees Program. Look at everything your company does and there is probably an obvious opportunity to insert a CSR initiative. Planning a team-building event? Why not work together on a community project related to one of your customers’ or your organization’s passion points? Do you award or incentivize any stakeholders? Maybe there is an opportunity to match their efforts with something beneficial, i.e. plant trees to honor all of the work they do to save them. Don’t be afraid to use the power of business, whether big or small, for good. It is a win-win and pays for itself.

*    “The Benefits of Trees.” The Arbor Day Foundation. https://www.arborday.org/trees

**    Fishman, Charles. “Message in a Bottle.” Fast Company Magazine July 2007: 110.

The original article may be found on LinkedIn

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New York Paid Family Leave

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Overview

New York’s Paid Family Leave program provides wage replacement to employees to help them bond with a child, care for a close relative with a serious health condition, or help relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.

Employees are also guaranteed to be able to return to their job and continue their health insurance. If you contribute to the cost of your health insurance, you must continue to pay your portion of the premium cost while on Paid Family Leave.

Paid Family Leave coverage will be included under the disability policy all employers must carry. The premium will be fully funded by employees through payroll deductions, expected to begin approximately July 1, 2017. A maximum rate of employees’ contribution will be established each year. Read more…

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Facebook Photos Portray Workers’ Compensation Fraud

The threat of workers’ compensation fraud is almost always present, so employers need to remain vigilant in investigating suspicious activities. Although fraud may be difficult to detect, sometimes workers expose the truth on social media. In one case, a fraudulent scheme was uncovered after a worker posted photos on his Facebook page. This article explains what the photos revealed. Read more now

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New Account Management Options Available with MassTaxConnect Update

Courtesy of the MA DOR

Manage Payments and Returns from the Logon Page

Under I Want To, choose Manage payments and returns to manage payments, returns, and balances from one place.

You can now filter by Account Type with the Accounts filter, by Returns, Payments, and Balances with the Show filter, and/or by Period with the For Periods filter.

 

Easily Make Payments with Payment Channels

You can store banking information to make payments without having to re-enter it again by using Payment Channels. To set up a payment channel, click the Settings button from the Customer page and select the Payment Channels tab.

Once a payment channel is established, you can make all your payments using the existing payment channel. You will also have the option of entering new banking information if desired. As always, you can also schedule your payment to process the same day or at a future date.

Plan Ahead

MassTaxConnect will not be available over the weekend of July 15 and 16 while the update is implemented. Please make sure your web profile information is up to date, including your email address and phone number. Update your security questions to guarantee that you can reset your own password without asking for help.

The MassTaxConnect information page is regularly updated, including the Frequently Asked Questions, with information about MassTaxConnect.

Thank you for using MassTaxConnect.
We’re continually providing updated information about MassTaxConnect at mass.gov/dor/mtcinfo.

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