The arbitrator looking over the grievance has ordered the employee be reinstated after being fired last year for allegedly puff-puff-passing in the workplace. Bombardier has a drug and alcohol policy that does not allow use on the property.
The Toronto arbitrator Paul Craven ruled that Bombardier didn’t produce just cause to fire the employee, and have to reinstate him with no loss of seniority and compensate him for his lost income.
Unifor Local 1075 file the grievance on his behalf after the man and a co-worker were dismissed in October 2017. The co-worker’s grievance is still in the process of arbitration.
Evidence presented at the hearing indicates that a supervisor saw the two employees taking their break in a spot outside the plant which was known to be “a preferred site for illicit drug use”
The supervisor went on to explain that he found various drug paraphernalia in that location over the years, including “one-hitters” used for smoking marijuana. Some of the marijuana pipes found were made out of component parts used in the manufacturing process.
The day that the incident happened, the supervisor said he noticed the strong smell of marijuana dope, then spotted the two workers no more than 200 feet away from him. As he began to close in on their location, he noticed smoke being exhaled from the one guy’s mouth and saw something his the ground and smoulder, but a quick search turned up nothing.
Both men were told to follow the supervisor into the Human Resources office, the co-worker left the scene on his bicycle, but was located later and brought to the office.
In an interview in while Unifor officials were present, two company officials noted that they had not noticed any signs the employee was impaired, but the supervisor expressed the guy’s eyes appeared “glossy” and looked “jittery”.
The supervisor was the lone company representative of 3 at this meeting that claimed he smelt marijuana in the meeting room, but was also unable to pinpoint the source.
The employee urged that he was not smoking dope, but once it was clear he was going to be drug tested, he mentioned that the test would come back positive because he uses marijuana medically, and needs it to sleep at night.
Craven noted that the man lied about having a prescription “and gave a self-serving account of the incident,” but determined that “it does not follow that he was not telling the truth when he insisted that he had not smoked marijuana” in the workplace.
“He was not seen smoking, exhaling or disposing of drugs or paraphernalia,” the arbitrator said, adding that both union and company witnesses testified that the man had teared up during the meeting, something which could account for glossy eyes.
“The company has not demonstrated that it is more probable that the grievor smoked marijuana on its property on October 5 than that he did not,” Craven ruled.
The arbitrator suggested that in light of the inevitable legalization of recreational use of marijuana, “It has become notorious that current tests for cannabinoids are incapable of demonstrating either present impairment or recent consumption”
Craven suggested that until more advanced testing become accessible, Unifor and Bombardier’s joint commitee on substance abuse “might well consider other more reliable methods of assessing impairment and/or alternative policy approaches to the problem of marijuana use in the workplace.”
With files from Gary Rinne/tbnewswatch