Carol Whitmire liked her job as a customer service supervisor in a Walmart store in Taylor, Arizona, but it all starting falling apart the day a bag of ice fell on her wrist. That seemingly random accident unleashed a series of events that ended up in her firing and filing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Around six years after starting work at Walmart WMT, +0.92% first as a cashier at another store, Whitmire, 61, obtained a state-issued medical marijuana card to treat lasting pain from arthritis and an old shoulder surgery.
In May 2016, that bag of ice fell on Whitmire’s right wrist as she leveled bags in the ice machine. She finished her shift, but the pain and swelling continued for several days. She was sent to an urgent-care clinic by Walmart.
At the clinic, her wrist was X-rayed and she took a urine test. No one at the clinic took her medical marijuana card, so Whitmire — anticipating that her employer would know that she had marijuana in her system — told her supervisor that she uses the drug for medical purposes.
Two months later, she was fired, with her positive drug test cited as the reason.
Experts say cases such as Whitmire’s exist in a legal grey area. Employee protections vary across the 34 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal. Adult recreational use is also legal in 10 states and Washington