The ‘High’ Court Denies Review of Federal Overtime Case Involving Cannabis Employees

As you might recall from our previous post, The 10th Circuit Grants Re-leaf to Workers Seeking Overtime Under the FLSA, the 10th Circuit held that cannabis employers are not immune from federal overtime laws even though the cannabis sector is illegal under federal law.

The employer in Robert Kenney v. Helix TCS, Inc.sought to clear the haze that the 10th Circuit’s ruling created with respect to the “confusion, conflict, and lack of uniformity between state and federal law regarding federal rights and protections accorded” to employees in the cannabis industry by filing a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

While the Appellate court found that cannabis employees can bring suit under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because employers are not excused from complying with federal law just because their business practices are federally prohibited, in its petition, Helix argued that this notion seemed at odds with the principle that the federal government does not “extend federal benefits to those associated with the marijuana industry.”

The High court denied review. For now, it appears that cannabis employees can seek redress for federal labor law violations under the FLSA. But even if the court had ruled that the FLSA did not apply, cannabis employers still need to comply with state labor laws. Thus, employers must ensure their practices are compliant in their relevant jurisdictions. Otherwise, they might find themselves involved in high stakes litigation.


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