Watch CBS News

City Officials Investigating After Man Turned Down For Job Over Medical Marijuana Use

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Denied a job because of medical marijuana use; a North Side man said it happened to him, and now the City of Chicago is investigating.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas looks into the case.

Two years before Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, Sean Kelly was already using cannabis legally, thanks to his medical marijuana card.

"It has done wonders. I used to have multiple seizures per week," he said.

But that same treatment cost him a job with Stone Wheel, an auto parts distributor in Albany Park. They were about to hire him to deliver car parts to their clients, but then he failed their drug test in February.

"I then asked is it because of the medical cannabis? The gentleman I was speaking to said yes," Kelly said.

So Kelly's doctor at Northwestern Medicine wrote a letter saying "he takes the cannabis for his epilepsy, and it is helping him to maintain seizure freedom. He is capable of doing the job of delivering car parts."

But they still didn't hire him, so Kelly filed a disability discrimination complaint, and now the City of Chicago is investigating.

"I'm struggling to pay rent. The only way I can pay bills is by spending money I've saved up over the years," Kelly said.

Dan Renehan, the co-president of Stone Wheel, said he didn't want to do an on-camera interview, but in a phone call he defended their decision, saying they have a strict no-drug policy when it comes to drivers.

"He could get in an at-fault accident, and because it says positive for marijuana, we could be liable for things that we don't even know about, you know?" Renehan said. "We're trying to do what's right."

Kelly said he could drive safely, because he only uses cannabis before bed, and he no longer feels the effects in the morning.

"I would not be under the influence. I do not like the idea of being intoxicated during work," he said.

Kelly's attorney, David Fish, said he hopes the case can at least get them some answers about what an employer can or cannot do.

"It's just the Wild West right now in the workplace, with respect to having to deal with workplace issues related to marijuana," Fish said.

As for Kelly, he said he's still hoping Stone Wheel might hire him.

The city will investigate that case and try to determine if it's discrimination. Such investigations can lead to hearings, mediation, and sometimes fines or other penalties for businesses.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.