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Colorado Supreme Court Says Employees Can Be Fired For Marijuana Use

Brandon Coats works on his computer at his home in Denver in December 2012. i

Brandon Coats works on his computer at his home in Denver in December 2012. Ed Andrieski/AP hide caption

toggle caption Ed Andrieski/AP
Brandon Coats works on his computer at his home in Denver in December 2012.

Brandon Coats works on his computer at his home in Denver in December 2012.

Ed Andrieski/AP

Now that marijuana use is legal in Colorado, can employees be fired for lighting up a joint in their free time?

That was the question before the Colorado Supreme Court this term and on Monday it came to a conclusion: Yes, you can get fired.

The case was brought by Brandon Coats, who sued Dish Network after it fired him for using his "state-licensed ... medical marijuana at home during nonworking hours."

Coats said when Dish Network fired him, the company violated a state law that bars an employer from firing any worker over any "lawful" outside-of-work activity.

The court decided that the definition of "lawful" was broader than state law. It concluded:

"The term 'lawful' as it is used in section 24-34-402.5 is not restricted in any way, and we decline to engraft a state law limitation onto the term. Therefore, an activity such as medical marijuana use that is unlawful under federal law is not a 'lawful' activity under section 24-34-402.5."

In other words, Coats was legally fired.

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