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COLORADO SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS EMPLOYERS’ ABILITY TO MAINTAIN A DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE

DENVER— The Colorado Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Colorado Court of Appeals’ decision in Coats v. Dish Network, a lawsuit challenging an employer’s decision to terminate an employee for testing positive for marijuana during a random workplace drug screening. The Colorado Attorney General’s office participated in argument and briefing as a friend-of-the-court, explaining the critical importance of workplace drug policies for employers in the State.

"We are pleased the Colorado Supreme Court agreed with our position in this case," said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. "The court's decision allows Colorado companies the freedom to write their own employment policies regarding marijuana. Not every business will opt for zero-tolerance, but it is important that the latitude now exists to craft a policy that fits the individual workplace.”

The Colorado Supreme Court held that under “Colorado’s ‘lawful activities statute,’ the term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law.” Therefore, employees who engage in an activity, such as marijuana use, that is illegal under federal law are not protected by the statute.

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