James J. Oh, Member of the Firm, and Kathleen A. Barrett, Associate, in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Chicago office, were quoted in WBEZ News, in “Can I Get Fired for Using Marijuana? Your Legal Weed Questions Answered,” by Mariah Woelfel.

Following is an excerpt:

Picture this: your child’s elementary school teacher, your doctor, maybe your tax accountant — smoking a joint.

It’s something that may be hard to imagine, maybe it even makes you cringe. But that could change as weed becomes more common across Illinois. And we've gotten several questions from people who want to know: can I get fired for partaking? 

That was on the mind of one reader, Meagan, who did not want us to use her last name when she asked: “If people were to use weed recreationally outside of their normal working hours, could they still be fired if they are randomly drug tested?”

The short answer to Meagan’s question is yes. Employers have the right, under Illinois’ new marijuana law, to fire an employee for failing a drug test. But consumers and employers need to know: it could get complicated.

Here’s a breakdown of things to consider when deciding whether to light up legally. …

“States are not interpreting the statutes consistently,” said Kathleen Barrett, an associate attorney representing Illinois employers for Epstein Becker Green. “At first you started off with a lot of employer-friendly decisions but then you see a transition to more employee-friendly decisions.” …

And advice to employers from the experts? Review and update your policies now rather than later, and have an open dialogue with your employees.

“Tell employees what your policy is, what your philosophy is and generally what the rules are,” said Chicago employment attorney Jimmy Oh. “I think there are many an employee who … have questions but they’re afraid to ask them because they don’t want their employer to think they’re a stoner.”


Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.