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Date: 05-30-2023

Case Style:

John Dellaveccihio v. Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.

Case Number: 22-cv-4932

Judge: Baylson

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Matthew F. Nieman

Description: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania civil rights lawyers represented Plaintiff who sued Defendant on an employment discrimination theory.

In April 2022, Plaintiff interviewed for a position at one of Defendant's facilities. 2nd Am. Compl. ¶ 14. In May 2022, he was offered, and accepted, a position as an Associate Engineer - Process Automation Co-op with the assurance that Plaintiff's position would change from a co-op position to a full-time position once Plaintiff had obtained his degree. Id. ¶¶ 15-19.

During the post-offer, pre-employment process, Plaintiff was subjected to a drug test at the Defendant's facility on June 7, 2022. Id. ¶ 20. Prior to the test, Plaintiff informed Defendant that Plaintiff was certified to use, and did use, medical marijuana to treat a serious health condition. Id. ¶ 21. However, Plaintiff realized that his medical marijuana card had expired. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. He informed the testing center nurse that he had a valid prescription, but that the card was expired. Id. ¶ 24. He asked to postpone the appointment, if necessary, because he had a doctor's appointment the next day, June 8, 2022, and could obtain an updated medical marijuana card at that time. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff was told by the nurse that, as long as Plaintiff had an updated medical marijuana card at the time he received the results, it would not be a problem. Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff went through with the drug test on June 7, 2022.

On June 8, 2022, the day after his drug test, Plaintiff attended his doctor's appointment, where his physician “certified Plaintiff's continued prescription [for] use of medical marijuana, noting that Plaintiff's online certification would be updated immediately, and he would be receiving an updated medical marijuana card in the mail.” Id. ¶¶ 27-28. Plaintiff sent Defendant his updated certification for medical marijuana and received the updated card on or around June 12, 2022. Id. ¶¶ 30-31.

On June 15, 2022, Plaintiff received a phone call from Defendant in which he was informed that his offer of employment was rescinded because he had tested positive for marijuana. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. Plaintiff informed the woman making the phone call that he had a medical marijuana card, but the woman stated that the card “did not matter” because this was “Defendant's policy.”

Id. ¶¶ 34-36. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's sole reason for denying him employment was because of his status as an individual certified to use medical marijuana. Id. ¶ 43.

Plaintiff brings two claims:

1. Count I: Discrimination in violation of the PMMA (id. ¶¶ 50-53); and

2. Count II: Discrimination in violation of Pennsylvania public policy (id. ¶¶ 54-57).

Plaintiff seeks $150,000.00 in damages, plus interest, and other relief as just and equitable. Id. at 8.

* * *

Under Pennsylvania law, courts apply a three-part test to determine if a statute implies a private right of action. Cort v. Ash, 422 U.S. 66, 78 (1975). First, the court must ask whether the plaintiff is “one of the class for whose especial benefit the statute was enacted.” Id. (emphasis original). Second, the court must examine whether there is any indication of legislative intent to create or deny a private remedy. Estate of Witthoeft v. Kiskaddon, 733 A.2d 623, 626 (Pa. 1999). Third, the court must look at whether such a remedy would be consistent with the underlying purpose of the legislative scheme. Id. The third element is not contested by the parties here, and so this Court will not address it.

Outcome: Defendant's motion to dismiss denied.

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