Michael Hirsch, a 60-year-old prostate cancer survivor who has spent years working as a programmer and systems analyst with Lane County, Oregon, was fired in December after two human resource employees reported that they smelt cannabis on him, and he subsequently failed a drug test.
Now, Arbitrator Jeffrey Jacobs has ruled that the country must give Hirsch his job back. Not only that, they must pay Hirsch $21,550 in back pay for the nearly half a year of work he missed.
Jacobs ruled that the county’s drug-free workplace policy – the policy used as justification to fire Hirsch – doesn’t apply to him because it contains an exception stating that if a substance is taken under the supervision of a licensed health care professional and “does not present a safety hazard or otherwise adversely impact an employee’s performance”, it’s allowed.
Jacobs noted that Hirsch received “a number of very positive messages and reviews” from supervisors in the time he’s worked there, and he received no formal complaints during his employment.
Jacobs ruled that Hirsch’s job be reinstated immediately.