Cannabis workers in the state are entitled to the same federal protections as other workers
Despite cannabis not yet being regulated on a federal level, employees who work in the industry are entitled to the same federal protections afforded all other industries. This is the verdict of the US Federal Court of Appeals in a case that pitted employees against their boss in Colorado, and the outcome is going to have a far-reaching impact for all workers across the country.
Helix TCS, Inc. is a security company in Colorado that provides protection services for area cannabis companies. Given the fact that the cannabis industry is still virtually an all-cash industry, security is a regular fixture for dispensaries and even producers. In Helix’s case, it had decided that, since cannabis isn’t federally approved, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) didn’t apply, and that it didn’t need to pay its employees standard minimum wages and overtime rates in accordance with the Act.
The company was wrong, and it learned the lesson the hard way. The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided last week that Helix is on the hook for back pay owed an unidentified number of employees that were part of the class-action suit.
The fact that Helix would even try to employee anyone and then claim those individuals weren’t entitled to fair compensation speaks volumes about its business practices. The company’s ethics should definitely be called into question and this would raise concerns about whether or not it was properly disclosing all of its activity in accordance with standard tax and employment regulations on both a state and a federal level. While that’s a topic for a different day, at least marijuana employees have been given the satisfaction of knowing that the federal law is on their side when it comes to wages and compensation.