A mining company employee was properly dismissed for possessing
and using marijuana at work, a labour arbitrator has held.
And the employee had not proven that he had a drug
problem that required the employer to accommodate.
The employee worked as a Plating Tankman at Vale's refinery
in Thompson, Manitoba. The company had alcohol and drug
policies aimed at safety in the workplace. The policies
prohibited use and possession of illicit drugs at work. The
arbitrator decided that the evidence was clear that despite the
company's efforts, there was a drug problem in the
The employee admitted that he had worked under the
influence. He argued, though, that under human rights
legislation, the employer was required to accommodate his
"drug problem". According to the arbitrator, the
employee "described a pattern of marijuana use and abuse that
was certainly consistent with an addiction illness." The
employee claimed that he had been a heavy marijuana user since
about age fifteen. He also claimed that the Addictions
Foundation of Manitoba, where he had taken treatment, confirmed
that he had an addiction diagnosis.
However, the arbitrator decided that the employee's failure
to produce, at arbitration, a formal written diagnosis of addiction
from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba led to an "adverse
inference" that the report would not support the
employee's claim that he was addicted. Further, the
employee's testimony about his pattern of marijuana use was
questionable due to the problems with the employee's
credibility; he had been dishonest with the company when he was
initially confronted about his marijuana use at work.
As a result, the arbitrator decided that the employee "had
a problem with marijuana use but a dependency or addiction was not
established on the evidence." As such, he was not entitled to
accommodation under human rights legislation.
The arbitrator decided that the drug use in this case was
"especially egregious in that there was ongoing and frequent
use with a hidden drug cache on the premises." The
company had just cause to dismiss the employee.
Vale (Manitoba Operations) v. United Steel, Paper and
Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and
Service Workers International Union, Local 6166 (Arne Peltz,
Labour Arbitrator, August 2, 2013)
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