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DISH's firing of paralyzed medical marijuana patient backed by business biggies

brandon coats 205x205.jpg
Photos, documents below.
Since 2012, we've been reporting about DISH's firing of Brandon Coats, a paralyzed medical marijuana patient, after he failed a drug test.

Coats's lawsuit over the issue has failed in Arapahoe District Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals. It's now headed to the Colorado Supreme Court, where powerful forces are lining up against him, including some of the most prominent business organizations in the state. Continue for details and a newly filed court document.

As we've reported, Coats, who's in his thirties, is paralyzed over 80 percent of his body. At age sixteen, he was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed into a tree.

Since then, Coats has used a wheelchair to get around, but he's fully capable of working -- and in 2007, he was hired by DISH as a customer service representative. Over the years that followed, his original lawsuit contends that prescription medicine Coats took to treat involuntary muscle spasms began to fail. When searching for a way to deal with these symptoms, his physicians recommended that he supplement his regimen with medical marijuana. He received his state-issued license for MMJ in August 2009 and found that cannabis helped alleviate his spasms. However, the complaint stresses that he never used marijuana at his job during work hours or anywhere on the company's premises.

Thumbnail image for brandon coats.jpg
Brandon Coats.
In May 2010, Coats was ordered to take a random drug test. He's said to have told the employee administering the test that he was an MMJ patient, but this wasn't taken into account when he registered a positive for THC. The agent who broke the news allegedly told him that his status as a patient didn't matter: "That is just Colorado state law and does not apply to your job." Two weeks later, Coats was fired for violating the company's drug policy.

Attorney Michael Evans subsequently took DISH to court, arguing that Coats's activities were constitutionally protected. But in February 2012, Araphaoe District Judge Elizabeth Beebe Volz granted DISH's motion to dismiss. Among the cases she cited to justify this ruling was one involving Jason Beinor, a medical marijuana patient sacked from his street sweeping job after failing a drug test.

In the wake of more judicial machinations, the Coats case reached the Colorado Court of Appeals. In a 2-1 decision, the court sided with DISH. Then, earlier this year, the Colorado Supreme Court decided to weigh in on the case, giving Coats one more chance.

In the interim, DISH has lined up some powerful allies. A newly filed brief finds the Colorado Civil Justice League asking the court for permission to weigh in on behalf of the telecom. The entities represented by the CCJL for this effort include:

• Denver Chamber of Commerce

• Mountain States Employers Council

• Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association

• Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry

• Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors

• National Federation of Independent Businesses

• Colorado Contractors Association

• Colorado Mining Association

• Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance

• Colorado Competitiveness Council

• Climax Molybdenum Company

• Association of General Contractors

Why do these organizations want the Supremes to echo the Court of Appeals ruling?

Continue for more about the latest development in the Brandon Coats case, including the complete motion.



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98 comments
k2yeb
k2yeb

One day we will look back and be ashamed at how deeply rooted prescription drugs and alcohol are in our society while at the same time billions were spent fighting a war that was never winnable against pot. 


Obviously, history repeats itself. Prohibition anyone. Weed is the new booze. 

dtmac
dtmac

DIRECT TV should hire Mr Coats, Dish sucks.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Business interests are waging war against their customers and employees; we should reciprocate!

tribune420
tribune420

I fired DISH a few years ago, when I lost the signal and they refused to fix the problem. Crappy costumer service, inferior product, and now they are firing someone that was doing a good job, over some imagined fear.  These people are full on nutz. I pledge to never subscribe to DISH again.

Sean Reed
Sean Reed

Um whoever posted an mmj card is private info.....incorrect..... the state and federal government has your name and address..... duh....

Maria P. Fernandez-Yoos
Maria P. Fernandez-Yoos

But nobody forced him to work there, and there are 500 other people who would take his job.

Maria P. Fernandez-Yoos
Maria P. Fernandez-Yoos

He knows the company policy and has chosen to disregard it by means of finding a loophole. He should be fired.

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

Because that's their right. This state gives it to them. You don't like it, overturn the fire at will law.

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

"(b) Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place".......    


Means patients can't cultivate, use, obtain medical IN the work place-- if employer says. (It also means patients don't have RIGHTS to do these things at work place).  The employer is not required to ban it and they can even allow it. 


It does not say anything about TAKING AWAY an employers right to fire over a hot piss test. 

The constitution also does not clearly say patients or caregivers have RIGHTS. 

Lisha Jane
Lisha Jane

I cared for Brandon as a CNA for over a year. Cannabis allows him to live an ACTIVE and normal life. EDUCATE. ADVOCATE. CHANGE. Support coming your way old friend

Patrick Garret King
Patrick Garret King

Dish was one of the top 10 rated w o r s t companies to work for. I can attest...worked there for 3 mo. Just to get by until I got back into my career. The environment was toxic..run by a cheap ass right wing nut bag.

Phil Mauracher
Phil Mauracher

Have the CEO and managers tested. Let's see who stays employed.

Terry Swarbrick
Terry Swarbrick

This young man should be commended for wanting to work when he could probably go out on disability. Enough of corporate America dictating what we can and cannot do on our own free time! Freaking Gestapo. But, the most salient point is that having an MMJ license is supposed to be confidential. This is pure and utter bullshit. Go to hell Dish.

Joey Depue
Joey Depue

Josh Bradley...I never said it was right I was simply answering the question. You let one failed drug test stay, you gotta let them all stay. And do you know the stats on people fired from dish for failing drug tests or breathalyzers? I'm sure he isn't the only one this ever happened to, he is just handicapped and has his MMJ card so he's an easy choice to rally the public. Saw a guy walked out of my place of employment last week for failing a random. Where is his story? Nowhere. Because the media doesn't give a shit about the regular people.

Sarah Rowan
Sarah Rowan

I worked there for a year and a half, so I can confirm.

Nick Jones
Nick Jones

Real f'n humane!!!!!!!! Better go load up on OxyContin to keep his job. Smh

Clayton Capra
Clayton Capra

He's treating not using. Love the play on words you chose though.

Dustin Friend
Dustin Friend

It's still federally illegal, and if he is hurt on the job, or worse, hurts someone else, insurance will not cover damages and dish would be 100% on the hook. Because it's against the law to cover negligence due to illegal substances or intoxication.

Kimberly Scott-Marsden
Kimberly Scott-Marsden

They're all a bunch of ignorant people set in their ways and refuse to learn the FACTS about marijuana, not unlike a lot of companies. So obnoxious and behind the times. Pathetic really.

Josh Bradley
Josh Bradley

Joey, then they need to give everyone a breathalyzer every day as soon as they show up for work. Any alcohol detected and they should be fired for being under the influence of alcohol at work whether or not they really are. But they don't unless you are acting like you're under the influence. Same with prescription drugs like Matt said. Notice the hypocrisy? It negates the reasoning that you put forth. It has nothing to do with actually being impaired on the job which is what tests should be for.

Johanna Anderson
Johanna Anderson

I love dish and Unfortunately companies have the right to do this. It's unfortunate but you can't go against your companies policies for anyone. My company has the same rule. Hopefully times will change.

Stephen Felt
Stephen Felt

Because they are the support organization for business owners not employees, duh! Stupid questions get snappy answers.

Jim B Bochenek
Jim B Bochenek

Do everybody a favor and boycott these people. We have the power as voters and consumers.

Stephanie Ellis
Stephanie Ellis

Oh Dish...no wonder you're still the #1 worst company to work for in the US!

Matt Pyles
Matt Pyles

Umm. Dish should be sued for a shittone of $$$! Of course the Chamber of Commerce supports dish, that's there job! Shame on them and Dish!

Matthew Juntunen
Matthew Juntunen

No suprize! Dish is a Horrible company for sooo many un related reasons, they did that guy a favor!

Marcus Rose
Marcus Rose

Dish Network has to be the WORST provider! I would prefer Comcast over Dish. Their services suck and they don't even broadcast 24/7 HD Why would anyone do business with this firm? If you have brain one you would subscribe to DirecTV...especially those that are sports fans! DirecTV can't be beat. Dish Corp Offices are here...and if you do any search of job boards you will see all sorts of jobs open all the time...the place is a revolving door. They can't keep people cause once you start working for them and realize how shitty they are , you end up leaving! Horrible Service...Horrible Company!

Kelli Hackett
Kelli Hackett

this is the problem with "at will", you are basically a slave to your employer, even when you are not at work. You can't vent about your job on face book, you might get fired. Your employer can even tell you to wear your fave sports Jersey to work, but then send you home if you don't root for the same team they do. Of course, you can always go find another job if you don't like it, cuz there's tons of those, right?...

Matt Jurcin
Matt Jurcin

Boycott DISH. How do you make something legal for any consenting adult to walk into a store and buy...then not support people like this who are actually obeying state law? What a terrible double standard. SMH.

Crystal Hazelwood
Crystal Hazelwood

I worked at medical review office that we handled the drug screens for many companies, and when the legalization of marijuana came around, people were failing drug test and then coming back saying they have a red card and can prove it. But the problem was that even though medical marijuana was legal to have, applicants didn't know that companies don't HAVE to accept their red card and can denied employment. But there was also another loop hole, the companies had to make sure it was stated clearly in their policies. So a lot of companies had to revise their employee policies to reflect the new laws otherwise they have to find something else to justify the termination. So this past employee should look back into their policies to check if they even had it in there before he started employment at the company. Otherwise they need to give him his job back, or he could sue them wrongful termination.

LindaLee Law
LindaLee Law

Dish say good bye. NO company will do this to a medical marijuana patient. You will adjust your employee rules or lose business and rightly so. Watch that stock drop. Companies better wake up because they will lose employees

Michael Price
Michael Price

Same reason the local cable company would, they have an agenda and they pick and choose which laws and regulations they like to abide by as long as they make money at the end of the day. He should've had a synthetic urine kit.

Kelly Valdez
Kelly Valdez

Cheryl Worley Martino Hmmmm.....not surprising.

Bret Kantola
Bret Kantola

And it would not surprise me if both DirecTV and Comcast have the same policy. Anyone know?

Tai Kahn
Tai Kahn

DISH shooting themselves in the foot.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  ... Boycott the Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartels !!



Support your Local Private Caregiver / Grower !!



shakeurtree13
shakeurtree13

There aren't exactly a lot of jobs a person with a severe spinal injury can do. 

shakeurtree13
shakeurtree13

ALL corporate companies have a stance on MJ. This doesn't mean it's right. Would you skip your life saving med if it were illegal? Educate yourself, especially on the case details. 

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