Nafela W. Hojeij
Nafela W. Hojeij
Associate, Atlanta
Formerly: Waitress, Barista
  • B.A., Emory University;
  • M.B.A., Georgia State University;
  • J.D., Georgia State University.

As the daughter of restauranteurs, I grew up in the Hospitality Industry. From a young age, I knew that this fast-paced, energetic, and rewarding industry is where I belong. I appreciate good food and good people, both of which are staples in this business. At twenty-one years old, I became president of a ACDBE-certified food and beverage company. My background in the industry allows me to understand the needs of my clients and present unique solutions.

While Atlanta is home, I have also lived abroad. There is nothing more exciting to me than exploring new places and cultures. Since traveling is my favorite thing to do, I have traveled to more than forty countries. The experiences I have had while traveling have taught me how to navigate differences in opinion and understanding— a vital skill for any lawyer.

When I was thirteen, I was selected for and served on the Atlanta Braves Youth Advisory Board where I developed my passion for helping others. Since that time, I have always found different ways to serve my community. In college, I was Student Government President. In law school, I volunteered to support the Pro Bono work of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation. Today, I continue to volunteer through various organizations.

Employers in Massachusetts may not terminate employees who use medical marijuana in accordance with a prescription according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s recent ruling in Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC. Barbuto, a former Advantage employee, disclosed her medical marijuana usage at the time of her hire. Ms. Barbuto worked for only one day before she was terminated for failing the company’s mandatory drug test. The company’s drug policies followed the federal drug schedule, not local Massachusetts law. The court found for Ms. Barbuto by stating that, in terminating her employment, the company illegally discriminated against her.

The Court reasoned that medicinal marijuana prescribed for treatment purposes is as lawful as the use and possession of other prescribed medications, and that limiting access to medicinal treatments constitutes disability discrimination. The court, in part, relied on a Massachusetts law that states: any person who falls under the medical marijuana act shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege. This differs from California law, which legalizes medical marijuana yet specifically allows employers to prohibit marijuana in the workplace.

What does this mean for you? Massachusetts employers may not use blanket “drug-free workplace” policies to terminate employees whose doctors have prescribed marijuana to help treat medical conditions. This Court found that these policies deny handicapped employees the opportunity of a reasonable accommodation—a violation of the anti-handicap discrimination laws. Massachusetts employers must be sure to not effectively deny a handicapped employee the opportunity of a reasonable accommodation.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!