News & Publications

Nathaniel Glasser Quoted in “The Year in Cannabis Case Law: Major Pot Rulings from 2019”

Law360

Nathaniel M. Glasser, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Law360, in “The Year in Cannabis Case Law: Major Pot Rulings from 2019,” by Sam Reisman. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The maturation of the cannabis industry has led to a predictable uptick in litigation as business deals have fallen apart, employees have asserted their rights, and diverging federal and state policies on marijuana have come into conflict.

But the body of cannabis case law is still very much in its infancy, attorneys say. A paucity of precedent has left judges, particularly on the federal bench, with broad leeway to decide how to rule — or whether to weigh in at all — in disputes involving businesses that remain federally illegal. …

Here, Law360 looks back at some of the most significant cannabis law developments of 2019. …

A Win for Employee Rights

In a landmark decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed in September that the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to workers in the marijuana industry.

In doing so, the panel upheld a trial court’s decision that workers at Colorado cannabis security company Helix TCS Inc. could pursue a wage-and-hour collective action even though pot is illegal under federal law.

According to Nathaniel Glasser, a labor and employment member at Epstein Becker Green, the ruling has implications for the cannabis industry beyond just the FLSA — it indicates that marijuana businesses are required to develop and implement anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies, maintain time records, pay overtime and accurately classify employees, he said.

“Although the product that is being sold might be viewed as illegal under federal laws, those employment-related laws don’t govern the product or service, but the relationship between the employer and employee,” Glasser said.

Helix has sought a review of the decision, and its request is pending.

The case is Kenney v. Helix TCS, case number 18-1105, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.