Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2015
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2015 The Providence Journal Company
Author: Katie Mulvaney


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A Superior Court judge Tuesday refused to dismiss 
a lawsuit accusing a Westerly fabric company of violating a West 
Warwick woman's civil rights and state law by denying her a paid 
summer internship after she disclosed that she carried a medical 
marijuana card.

Judge Richard A. Licht denied a motion by Darlington Fabrics Corp. 
and its parent company, The Moore Company, to dismiss a lawsuit 
brought by the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union 
on behalf of Christine Callaghan. The suit alleges that Darlington 
Fabrics violated the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act and the state 
medical marijuana law when it turned down Callaghan for a paid 
internship at the company in July 2014 after she told human resources 
she was a medical marijuana cardholder. Callaghan uses medical 
marijuana to treat "occasional debilitating migraine headaches," 
according to the ACLU.

"We believe it is important to keep in mind the significance of this 
issue," Steven Brown, executive director of the state affiliate, 
said. "If the defendants have their way, any of the thousands of 
people in Rhode Island using medical marijuana for serious medical 
conditions would be forced to choose between taking lawfully this 
medication to relieve their pain or not having a job."

Carly Beauvais Iafrate, who argued for the ACLU, said that though 
employers might not like the medical marijuana law, they must comply with it.

"Our most important objective is people shouldn't have to chose 
between work and the best way to treat their medical condition," Iafrate said.

Timothy C. Cavazza, a lawyer for Darlington, did not immediately 
return a phone call Tuesday.

According to the lawsuit, Callaghan, of West Warwick, has 
participated in Rhode Island's medical marijuana program since 
February 2013. She sought an internship in Darlington's dye lab while 
pursuing a master's degree in textiles at the University of Rhode Island.

The company indicated she could start July 2014. During a June 30, 
2014, meeting with human resources she disclosed her medical 
condition and that she held a medical marijuana card. Callaghan, a 
graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, explained that she 
would not bring medical marijuana onto the premises or come to work 
after having taken marijuana.

On July 2, a human resources representative and company official 
informed her via speakerphone that they could not employ her because 
of her status as a medical marijuana patient. They called her again 
later and said she would not be hired because of her marijuana use.

The ACLU is asking the court to declare that the company cannot 
discriminate against based on Callaghan's status as a medical 
marijuana cardholder. She seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial.
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