Disciplinary Investigations

15 April 2015

First Bristol Ltd v Bailes

A Bristol bus driver has received an £84,000 pay out for unfair dismissal after he lost his job following a positive saliva drug test. First Bristol Ltd had received a complaint about his driving and conducted the test to investigate. This drugs test returned a positive result for cocaine.

The driver, who had a clean disciplinary record in his 22 years with the company, strongly disputed the result of this test and asserted that the positive result was not due to his own personal drug use. An alternative explanation he put forward was that he had been handling bank notes (which are known to often be contaminated with cocaine) shortly before eating his sandwiches and this could be why the saliva test showed evidence of cocaine. The driver paid out of his own pocket for a hair test which returned a negative result for the preceding 90 days.

In the words of the Employment Judge, the presence of the positive test ‘seemed to close the minds’ of First Bristol to there being an innocent explanation. They did not at any stage in the investigation appear to make any enquiry as to whether the driver’s explanation held any validity, something the Judge labelled ‘unreasonable and wholly unexplained’.

It is critical that disciplinary investigations are fair and reasonable at every stage of the process. The outcome of these investigations should not be prejudged. At Alpha, we can help ensure that your disciplinary procedures avoid costing you at an Employment Tribunal.


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