Fair Work backs drug test refusal truckie dismissal


Rebuff on providing sample seen as breach of company policy

Fair Work backs drug test refusal truckie dismissal
The company was found to act in accordance with its drug and alcohol policy

 

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled in favour of Tasfreight’s decision to dismiss a truck driver who refused a drug test.

The driver’s unfair dismissal application, arguing the company had no valid reason to test him and that he didn't reject it but was simply unable to provide a sample, was rejected.

The event was prompted by the company’s concerns after GPS location monitoring showed him in the wrong location.

A response of "I don’t know how I got here I must have zoned out" was later disputed as a joke by the driver, who blamed incorrect GPS routing, but the company’s concerns of erratic behaviour were heightened by his agitated response to a request for a drug test and initial refusal to wear a seatbelt when driven to the medical clinic.

The commission heard upon arrival for a urine sample he went to the toilet, did not drink water provided to him (though he bought himself a soft drink), and then claimed over the next three hours he was unable to provide a sample.

Tasfreight alleged this equated to a refusal to provide a sample, a contravention of the company’s zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy – which treats a refusal as a ‘not negative’ result and is regarded as a disciplinary matter – and grounds for his summary dismissal on the same day.


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While the driver did not dispute the company policy to the FWC, he argued that he did not refuse to submit a sample but was simply unable to provide one, and that he would happily have provided one the following day.

The commission found the company had a "reasonable basis" to believe the driver was under influence of drugs or alcohol and therefore not fit to be driving a truck, and acted in accordance with its policy by requesting a drug test.

It ruled that the driver was aware of the policy and it was "implausible" that he wasn’t able to provide a sample, agreeing instead that he "did not take all reasonable measures to enable himself to provide a sample".

Therefore, the FWC ruled that the sacking was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable and dismissed the application.

 

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