Missouri’s New Marijuana Amendment: Workplace Testing and Employees “Under the Influence”

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



marijuanaMissouri’s newly approved constitutional Amendment 3 regarding marijuana use will go into effect on December 8, 2022.  With a total of 49 pages, the Amendment 3 has two sections: revised Section 1 (former Amendment 2), which focuses on medicinal use, and Section 2, which focuses on marijuana recreational use.

Employers have long had Drug-Free Workplace policies that test employees for various illegal drugs.  Common tests are pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, and fitness for duty/return to work/follow up after rehab or last chance.

The original Amendment 2 regarding medicinal use was passed in 2018.  Employers responded to this amendment in several ways including choosing to keep their policies the same but providing reasonable accommodation under the disability statutes or to simply quit testing for THC altogether except for reasonable suspicion.

Now, employers will have to go back to the drawing board.

Section 1: Medicinal Use of Marijuana

Section 1 of Amendment 3 revises the original Amendment 2 in its entirety. One of the revisions/additions includes adding a nondiscrimination in employment section. It prohibits employers from discriminating against “medicinal cardholders” based on off-duty use unless the person was “under the influence of medical marijuana” at or during work. Further, it specifically prevents employers from relying solely on a positive THC test result to terminate a medicinal cardholder unless the person used, possessed, or was “under the influence” of medical marijuana at or during work.

There are exceptions to the “under the influence test” for medicinal cards for the following situations:

  1. If the employer would lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law,
  2. If the employee has a job where “legal use of a lawful marijuana product affects in any manner a person’s ability to perform job-related employment responsibilities, or
  3. If it conflicts with a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably related to a person’s employment.

This exception protection does not appear to apply to “recreational” users who do not have a “medicinal card.”

There is no readily available test to scientifically confirm whether someone is “under the influence of marijuana” nor what the threshold of impairment is under BAC for alcohol. How long a person will test for marijuana depends on a multitude of factors but is not limited to: Continue reading »

Missouri Employers and Abortions as Healthcare: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



Authored by Ruth Binger with assistance from Sarah L. Ayers, contributor

supreme courtThe recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization triggered a ban on abortion in Missouri and several states. In 2019, Missouri passed the “The Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” an anti-abortion bill which included a trigger ban on abortions. In the event Roe v. Wade was ever overturned, the Governor or Attorney General was to issue a statement implementing the ban. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt issued a statement proclaiming the trigger law in effect as of Friday, June 24, 2022, at 9 a.m. following the Dobbs decision.

A variety of new legal questions related to abortion and healthcare have arisen since the decision was announced and states, such as Missouri, have enacted trigger bans. One example of the confusion involves life-saving abortions in cases of a medical emergency. Under a new regulation issued by the Biden administration, a life-saving abortion in cases of a medical emergency is a federally protected procedure. Leaders in several states have challenged the regulation.

Another issue lies with pre-Roe bans in states which outlaw abortion and whose legality today is still questionable even with the reversal of Roe. Many states with pre-Roe bans are in the process of putting updated laws on the books that either re-affirm restricting abortion or protect abortion. Kansas voters recently rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment stating there is no right to abortion within the state. Other questions raised include: How will the laws be enforced? Who can be charged with conspiracy in states under a ban (such as Missouri)? Can a state with an abortion ban exclude a fetus from being considered a person in other areas of the law? Continue reading »

Over the Counter COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests Are Required to Be Reimbursed by Your Health Care Plan

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



covid testOn December 2, 2021, President Biden announced that the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Human Resources (“Departments”) would issue guidance by January 15, 2022, to clarify that individuals who purchase Over The Counter COVID-19 Diagnostic tests (“OTC Tests”) during the public health emergency will be able to seek reimbursement from their group health plans or health insurance plans insurers (Collectively “Plans”).

On January 10, 2022, the Departments updated their guidance to generally require coverage of OTC tests, with or without a prescription or individualized clinical assessment by an attending health care provider. The Plan cannot impose cost-sharing requirements, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements.  The test needs to be for Plan participant’s personal use or for a family member enrolled under the Plan.

How to Purchase? Continue reading »

Modifications of Telehealth and Interstate License Compacts Due to COVID-19

Brian Weinstock

By Brian Weinstock



telemedicineIn response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have modified licensure requirements and renewal policies for medical providers to respond to the pandemic, including out-of-state license requirements for telemedicine.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is authorized to make declarations during certain emergencies regarding immunity from liability under the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). In 2020 and 2021, HHS added several amendments to the PREP Act including countermeasures for treatment and prevention of COVID-19, interstate telehealth expansion related to COVID-19, and liability protection for medical providers of COVID-19 related services and products.

Covered Persons

Under the PREP Act, covered persons include “manufacturers, distributors, program planners, and qualified persons, and their officials, agents, and employees, and the United States.” To increase access to vaccines, Amendments 5 through 8 expand the categories of covered persons who  may “prescribe, dispense, and administer COVID-19 vaccines” to include: Continue reading »

Revisions to Punitive Damages in Missouri

Lauren L. Wood

By Lauren L. Wood



Authored by Lauren L. Wood with assistance from Haley E. Gassel, contributor

personal injuryChanges have been made to punitive damages claims in civil actions filed in Missouri on or after August 28, 2020.

Under the revisions, Missouri Revised Statute Section 510.261 now prohibits parties from making a claim for punitive damages in their initial pleading in a civil action. Any claimant who wishes to add a punitive damages claim to a civil action must file a written motion to amend 120 days prior to the pretrial conference, or, if no conference is scheduled, 120 days prior to trial, seeking leave to bring a claim for punitive damages. The claimant seeking leave must provide exhibits, affidavits, and discovery materials establishing a reasonable basis for the recovery of punitive damages. Any party opposing leave may submit admissible evidence to demonstrate that the standards for a punitive damage award have not been met. The court may grant leave to add the punitive damages claim if it determines that a judge or jury could reasonably conclude, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the standards for a punitive damage award have been met. This statute has the effect of preventing meritless claims being made in litigation as well as saving both the time and money of the parties involved.

Substantive Changes and Clarifications

After clearing the hurdle of obtaining leave to bring a punitive damages claim, a claimant must satisfy the statute’s requirements to receive an award of punitive damages. To do so, RSMo  510.261(1) requires the claimant to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant “intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.” The revised statute does three things:

  1. Codifies the original common law regarding punitive damages. In Klingman v. Holmes, 54 Mo. 304, 308 (1873), the first Missouri Supreme Court case allowing an award of punitive damages, the Court held that exemplary damages are only appropriate where an evil intent has manifested itself in acts. The court reasoned that under common law there must have been intent, or positive proof of malice, to justify granting punitive damages.
  2. Clarifies the requisite mental state of the defendant, to intentionally harm without cause or with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others. This gives the judge or fact finder a clear standard for determining whether the claimant is entitled to punitive damages.
  3. Codifies the “clear and convincing” burden of proof standard. The Missouri Supreme Court has previously adopted this standard, but it had yet to be codified.[1],[2] The clear and convincing burden of proof standard falls within the middle ground of the ordinary civil burden of proof standard, preponderance of the evidence, and the criminal law standard, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Nominal Damages Continue reading »

Illinois Legislature Passes Bill Allowing for Prejudgment Interest on Personal Injury Claims

Litigation Practice Group

By Litigation Practice Group



personal injuryIllinois law traditionally has not allowed for prejudgment interest on personal injury claims, but that rule is about to change. On January 13, 2021, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 3360. The original purpose of the bill was to amend Illinois law relating to mortgage foreclosures and abandoned residential property. However, Senate Floor Amendment No. 1 modified the bill to introduce prejudgment interest for personal injury claims in Illinois.

Prejudgment interest on personal injury actions was not available under the common law, so generally it is only allowed when authorized by a statute. Illinois HB 3360 provides that in all actions for personal injury or wrongful death, the plaintiff shall recover prejudgment interest on all damages set forth in a subsequent judgment at the interest rate of 9% per annum.

Of note is when prejudgment interest begins to accrue under the bill. Among the jurisdictions allowing prejudgment interest on personal injury claims, a plethora of approaches has emerged for determining the starting point. Some states require the rejection of a formal demand with specific requirements (such as Missouri, § 408.040 RSMo.), others from the date of the loss (such as Florida, Fla. Stat. § 687.01), or still others from the date of the filing of the complaint (such as Michigan, Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.6013). Continue reading »

COVID-19 Vaccines and the Workforce – Mandatory or Encouraged?

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



covid-19 vaccineGetting back to normal in the next year or so may be impossible without the widespread use of COVID-19 vaccines. Although authorities do not anticipate the vaccines will be widely available until Spring 2021, employers should be considering whether to mandate or merely encourage vaccinations in the workforce.

Currently there is no definitive answer regarding mandatory vaccinations, and your plan will depend on many variables. Because this is the first pandemic in our memory and it is all new to us, consider forming a committee to monitor the status of laws, regulations, and guidance from various agencies.

Your business may be one of the lucky ones that navigated the pandemic without causing a loss of morale or culture, operating safely by working remotely, social distancing, wearing masks, and following CDC requirements. If so, setting aside all other factors, you may simply want to encourage vaccinations for the first few months that they are available, especially given potential concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and the ever-changing laws. You could do this by training and educating employees as to the efficacy of the vaccine, encouraging participation, and offering the vaccine for free (if not covered by insurance) at the workplace during work hours. Continue reading »

Access to Patient Medical Records During COVID-19

Health Care Law Practice Group

By Health Care Law Practice Group



medical recordsIssues relating to a patient’s right of access to medical records have never been more important than now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Healthcare providers, big and small (from a large New York City non-profit providing health care and other services to the homeless population to small psychiatric services providers in Virginia and Colorado), are facing monetary penalties and having to comply with Corrective Action Plans (CAP) imposed by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) with strict requirements and short deadlines.

One of these psychiatry services providers must distribute new policies and procedures concerning patient requests for records to all members of its workforce and relevant business associates within 30 days and to new employees upon hiring. Recipients are required to execute certification of having read, understood, and promised to abide by these policies and procedures. Training and individual certifications must be completed within 60 days. Going forward, the practice must implement annual training. Any reportable events must be fully investigated and described in a report as part of the full-scale written “Implementation Report.” The practice must submit the report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 120 days. The CAP concludes with a “Final Report,” again containing specific terms and obligations of the psychiatry practice. Continue reading »

Warning to Employers and Medical Providers Alike Regarding Releasing COVID-19 Test Results!

Employment Law Practice Group

By Employment Law Practice Group



So, your furloughed employee[i] is returning to work – Hooray!? Not so fast. Employers and the medical providers who are treating and perhaps testing these employees/patients for COVID-19 need to be wary about who is able to disclose and use testing information and to whom.  Both sides must tread carefully and follow strict guidelines in such situations.

covid test

For over two decades, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) has governed disclosure of an individual’s protected health information and has prevented a medical provider from unilaterally disclosing sensitive health information to employers.  Even faced with a previously unimaginable global pandemic, from its implementation in 2003, the HIPAA Privacy Rule has had procedures in place that address this thorny legal issue.

Take the following hypothetical example: An employer furloughs an employee as a reduction in work force for financial reasons. While on furlough, the rumor mill is active and the employer “hears” that this employee may have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while on furlough.  May the employer reach out to the employee’s medical provider to obtain medical information specifically related to COVID-19 testing? May the provider release such information if the employer contacts the provider to inquire? Work-arounds exist under the HIPAA Privacy Rule or may exist when the employer pays for COVID-19 testing.

Option 1:  Consent Upfront. Continue reading »

Troubling Practices by Hospitals for Patients’ Access to Medical Records Uncovered

Health Care Law Practice Group

By Health Care Law Practice Group



A new study published in JAMA Network Open and conducted by Yale University School of Medicine found troubling practices at U.S. hosmedical recordspitals relating to patients’ access to and provision of patients’ own medical records.  HIPAA’s Privacy Rule absolutely requires access to a medical record when properly requested under two circumstances:  (1) to the patient; and (2) to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Further, the patient must be provided records in his or her preferred format and for a reasonable processing fee.  Shockingly, only 53 percent of the hospitals surveyed provide patients an option to obtain their own medical records.  (Eighty-three top-ranked U.S. hospitals in 29 states were surveyed.)

Continue reading »

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