‘I was in total shock’: Methuen woman fired for off-duty marijuana use

METHUEN, MASS. (WHDH) - A Methuen woman who claims she has never been high while at work was recently fired by her employer after testing positive for marijuana.

“I guess it just feels like maybe the punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” Bernadette Coughlin said. “I would never be impaired at work. I would never do that.”

The 55-year-old believes she got a raw deal after she was fired from her job for vaping marijuana during her off hours.

For the last 18 months, she has worked as the Patient Services Manager for Sodexo — a food services company contracted by Holy Family Hospital in Methuen. In May, while at work, Coughlin says she stumbled and fell.

“They x-rayed it and found out I had broken my wrist and my elbow,” she said.

Coughlin’s boss had her sent for a drug test, and when it came back positive for marijuana, she was fired. She says she had vaped marijuana three days before the fall while she wasn’t on the job.

“I was in total shock. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I had assumed that because marijuana was legal now that it wasn’t such a horrible thing.”

Sodexo commented on the incident in a statement that read:

“Sodexo complies with the law and recognizes that this is an evolving legal and social issue. As many employers are currently doing, we are evaluating our policies in light of the changing landscape.”

Coughlin admits she signed a drug testing policy but never thought she would be fired now that it’s legal in Massachusetts. She says her supervisors have given her only positive reviews.

“I assumed that I was safe. I was wrong,” she said.

Coughlin plans to meet with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s staff on Wednesday to discuss her case.

(Copyright (c) 2018 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)