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Man using marijuana for medical relief sues Walmart over firing

BY CSA STAFF

New York City A man who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday he was wrongfully fired from a Walmart store in Michigan after testing positive for the drug, the Associated Press reported.

Joseph Casias, 30, was fired last year after five years on the job in Battle Creek, Mich. He was legally registered with the state to use the drug, according to the lawsuit. Michigan voters approved medical marijuana use in 2008.

Casias said he didn’t use marijuana at work or come to work under the influence. Scott Michelman, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the lawsuit aims to test the extent that Michigan’s law protects employees.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores said in a statement that it is an “unfortunate situation all around.” It said it is sympathetic to Casias’ condition but said it is an issue of customer and employee safety.

“The issue is about the ability of our associates to do their jobs safely,” the company said. “As more states allow this treatment, employers are left without any guidelines except the federal standard.”

Fourteen states provide protections for patients who use marijuana as recommended by a doctor. While still illegal under federal law, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last year the Obama administration would relax prosecution guidelines. Some state courts, however, haven’t upheld employee protections.

In April, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that an employer is not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana, saying state law is trumped by federal law, the report said. And in recent years, state supreme courts in Montana and California have ruled that medical marijuana laws don’t protect employees from being fired for using the drug.

The ACLU argues, however, said Michigan’s law more explicitly protects employees from being disciplined for legally using medical marijuana. It said that includes Casias’ case, but not those who use the drug at work, for example.

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Home goods looking good, for some

BY CSA STAFF

The success one retailer has in a given category can oftentimes be an indicator of a rising tide lifting all boats, which is why results last week from Bed Bath & Beyond are of particular interest to Target. The home goods specialist said first-quarter sales for the period ended May 29 increased 13.5% to $1.9 billion and same-store sales increased 8.4%. Earnings per share surged 53% to 52 cents a share.

Target is a major player in the home category, and last year it said the home furnishings and decor category accounted for 19% of total sales of $63.4 billion. As defined by Target, the category includes furniture, lighting, kitchenware, small appliances, home decor, bed and bath, home improvement, automotive and such seasonal merchandise sas patio furniture and holiday decor.

A strong performance by Bed Bath & Beyond is either an indication that the overall category is looking up, despite some significant ongoing difficulties in the housing market, or simply an example of a well-positioned superior operator gaining share from competitors, one of whom is possibly Target. The company has certainly had mixed things to say about the home category during the three month period that overlaps with Bed Bath & Beyond’s first quarter. For example, In May, comps in home were down slightly with a low single digit increase in the decorative home category and softness in housewares. In April, comps were moderately better than the total company decline of 5.9% and were led by a low single digit increase in the decorative home category with the softest performance in seasonal categories. In March, comps in home increased in the mid-to-upper single-digit range with the strongest results in the seasonal categories and weaker performance in housewares.

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Former Ace director dies at 89

BY CSA STAFF

Gregg Ziegler, the past director and vice chairman of Ace Hardware Corp.’s board of directors, was laid to rest last week. He was 89.

The World War II veteran joined the family business, Ziegler’s Ace Hardware, after graduating from college in 1947. He was the recipient of the 1983 Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Retailer of the Year. Today, Ziegler’s Ace operates 11 locations in Illinois.

According to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Ziegler was also an accomplished driver who set the NASCAR record for the Flying Mile event at Daytona Beach in 1960.

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