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Court clarifies employers’ rights in legalized-weed state

The Colorado Supreme Court Monday ruled on a controversial case involving off-duty, legal marijuana use and an employer's right to fire an employee for such use.

In the case of Coats v. Dish Network, the court upheld findings of two lower courts, saying that "employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute."

Colorado's highest court heard arguments on the case in September. The decision was made unanimously by six justices. The seventh, Justice Monica Marquez, recused herself because her father was involved in one of the lower court rulings.

Plaintiff Brandon Coats was fired by Dish Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH) after Dish discovered the presence of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, in his system following a random drug test. Dish has a zero-tolerance policy for controlled substances, including marijuana.

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