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Case Studies

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Left high and dry after failing a workplace drug test

Published 04 April 2018

Left high and dry after failing a workplace drug test.

In workplaces where drug testing is carried out failing such a test can have dire consequences

So when HGV driver David tested positive for cannabis, he feared the worst even though he insisted it was just a one off.

With the help of our representative, who presented significant mitigating factors on behalf of David, he did manage to keep his job.

His problems started outside of the workplace following an acrimonious break-up with his wife of more than 20 years.

She made numerous allegations against David and the police were called to the marital home a number of times before he eventually moved out. No criminal charges were ever brought against him.

David believed tensions had eased by the time he attended a colleague’s stag do. Little did David know, but this event would later come back to haunt him.

He had taken the weekend off work, and the Monday after, to attend the event in Amsterdam. On his return to work on the Tuesday, he was hauled into his manager’s office and accused of being a drug taker.

David denied the allegation, but was sent for a drug test that had been arranged and set up while he was off. The test proved positive for cannabis, and David was suspended from work.

Unbeknown to him, his estranged wife had sent the company an email with a photo from Facebook that was taken at the stag do and showed David with a cannabis joint in his lips. The email claimed he was a cannabis and cocaine addict.

During the disciplinary investigation David was invited to attend an investigation meeting.

At that time his manager did not inform him about the letter or picture and merely said the company had received information he was a regular drug user.

His manager refused to reveal the source of the information and repeatedly pointed out that David had failed the drug test. David admitted smoking one joint, insisted it was a one off and pointed out he had not failed any previous drug test during 12 years with the company.

David was later invited to attend a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of failing a drug test after reporting for duty.

The only evidence provided to support the allegation was the investigation meeting notes, highlighting David’s admission, and the test result.

David contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help.

Our representative was concerned that there was no evidence to show where the allegation initially came from. Prior to a disciplinary hearing if there is evidence an employer may have that can help an employee’s case or clarify certain points our representative will request it.

Following telephone and email correspondence our representative was provided with a copy of the letter and Facebook picture.

At the hearing it was acknowledged that David did smoke a joint and our representative presented the mitigating factors that included:

  • David’s remorse, long service, exemplary disciplinary and driving record and fact he had passed numerous previous tests, and it can be reasonably asserted he would have failed at least one if he was an addict and regular drug taker as alleged.
  • He smoked the joint three days before he was due back in work and there is nothing to suggest it would impair his ability to drive, as cannabis can be detected many days later. Also it was during an extremely turbulent and stressful time following the break-up of a long marriage and this had, had a detrimental impact on him emotionally, mentally and physically.
  • The allegations were malicious and from his wife who had made numerous groundless allegations and threats since the split. Text messages were presented to demonstrate some of the messages she had sent him, including one gloating that he was going to get sacked.

The company accepted the mitigation and cleared David of the allegation on the condition he would be subjected to further testing, which he was happy to agree to.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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