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Colo. high court to hear case of fired quadriplegic who tested positive for pot

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Brandon Coats Dish Network Employee
Photo by AP Photo Brandon Coats' mother Donna brushes Brandon's hair at his home in Denver on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.

The Colorado Supreme Court will hear arguments in September in the case of a former Dish Network L.L.C. employee who says he was wrongfully fired for using medical marijuana, according to the law firm representing the plaintiff.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 30 in Brandon Coats v. Dish Network L.L.C., according to a court order posted online Tuesday by Denver-based The Evans Law Firm.

Mr. Coats, who worked as a telephone customer service representative for Englewood, Colorado-based Dish Network, is quadriplegic and licensed to use medical marijuana in Colorado, according to court records. The company fired him in 2010 after he tested positive for marijuana in violation of company policy.

In court filings, Mr. Coats argued that he used legal marijuana outside of his work hours and off of Dish Network's property. Therefore, he claims Dish Network violated his rights under the Colorado Civil Rights Act by firing him for a legal off-duty activity.

According to a reply brief posted online this week by the Evans firm, Dish Network argues that Mr. Coats' marijuana use was not lawful because it violates federal controlled substance laws. Additionally, the company argued that Colorado law doesn't give a right to use marijuana, but rather provides a defense for people who are criminally prosecuted for using marijuana.

According to the reply brief, Dish also contends that Mr. Coats was under the influence of marijuana at his job, since he used marijuana to control his muscle spasms during work hours.

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