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Las Vegas Casino Employee Sues for Wrongful Termination After Being Fired for Using Pot Off-Duty

By Hunter Dublin | August 23, 2022

In an Ogletree Deakins report, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled last week. The state law protecting "lawful activities" does not apply to non-medical usage of cannabis.

Based on the report, the court ruled in Ceballos v. NP Palace, LLC that adult cannabis consumption was not "lawful" behavior outside of work. Because while legal in Nevada, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic and is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Danny Ceballos filed the lawsuit after being fired from his table dealer job at the Las Vegas Station Hotel & Casino. Ceballos, fired after failing a post-workplace injury drug test, claimed he was not impaired at the time of the accident and had not used cannabis in the previous 24 hours. As stated in the report, he filed the lawsuit under Nevada's "lawful off-duty conduct" law and for wrongful termination.

As per Nevada law, an employer cannot fire an employee "because any person engages in the lawful use in [Nevada] of any product outside the employer's premises. The employee's nonworking hours, if the cannabis use is not detrimental to employee's ability to perform their job or the safety of other employees."

In the report, the court dismissed the case because the Nevada protections only applied to activities that were "lawful under state and federal law, not just lawful under Nevada law."

The decision also mentioned a 2015 Colorado case, Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, which stated that adult cannabis use outside work was similarly not "lawful" due to its classification as a Schedule I narcotic.

The wrongful termination portion of the lawsuit was dismissed because the employer did not "violate strong and compelling public policy." The court ordered that the case lacked a "public dimension" such as on-the-job inquiries, worker compensation, or public services.

In a possible call to the state legislature, the court concluded that if the Nevada law "wants to require employers to accommodate employees using recreational Cannabis outside the workplace but who then test positive," it would have done so.


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