Paul Curry wins unemployment case against Coors

Coors Brewing, Golden, Colorado (Image: Jami Dwyer/Encyclopedia Britannica online)

Former Coors employee Paul Curry, fired earlier this year for being a medical marijuana patient–and for testing positive for the drug–has been awarded unemployment, his attorney Rob Corry told The Colorado Independent.

“This ruling says that he was not terminated through any fault of his own. It says that Coors was in the wrong. With this ruling, there can be no other reason for his termination than discrimination. Coors needs to take this ruling very seriously,” Corry said.

Curry worked at Coors from 2004 until March of this year when he was involved in an incident. He says a crane operator was lifting a motor to be placed on a roof. It was his job to help land the motor and put it in place. He says he could see the motor swinging and climbed up on a rail to wave at the crane operator–to signal him to back off with the motor before it hit something. He failed to get the operator’s attention and the motor did hit something.

He says that as part of the follow-up to incidents like that, all involved employees are subject to a mouth swap drug test. He says he passed the test but because he had told his supervisor he was a medical marijuana patient, the company then did a urine test, which did show evidence of marijuana usage, and he was then fired.

“I had taken some medical marijuana about two weeks before the event. That is the last time. I was not impaired in any way,” Curry told the Colorado Independent.

He said he had been a medical marijuana patient for a little more than a year at the time he was fired. He uses it for back pain. He takes 750mg of Tylenol daily for his back. Because of Hepatitis, he cannot take other pain medications, he says.

“Medical marijuana helps immensely with my back spasms,” he said.

Asked whether he ever used marijuana before work, he laughed. “I’m working sixty-five feet off the ground, often next to a 2700-degree furnace. I know my limitations. The last thing I need is to smoke a joint before work.”

A co-worker who asked not to be named, said that to his knowledge, Curry never came to work high. “That was never an issue. He was always there, always on time and did good work,” the co-worker said.

As to winning his unemployment claim, Curry said, “This proves I was never high at work. It can stay in the system a long time. I’m looking for another job, but really I’d just like my old job back,” he said.

Coors has not returned a call seeking comment.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.


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