Former First Bristol driver wins unfair dismissal claim

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A former First Bristol driver has been awarded almost £84,000 compensation for unfair dismissal after his employment was terminated for a failed drugs test.

In Bailes v First Bristol Ltd, a saliva drug test conducted on Bailes picked up traces of cocaine.

Thehrdirector.com reported that Bailes’ explanation for the positive test was that any drug traces must come from handling the fares paid by some passengers on the day the test was conducted. To prove the point, Bailes paid for an independent drug test which confirmed that he had not taken cocaine in 90 days prior to the test.

A tribunal upheld Bailes’ unfair dismissal claim. It said the employer had failed to conduct a reasonable investigation in the circumstances, and in particular, Bailes’ contention that he had never taken cocaine as proven by his own independent test.

Bailes was awarded £83,910, which took into account that while he had tried his best to find an equivalent job, employers in the public transport industry have serious concerns in circumstances where a failed drug test is involved. In addition, the employer was judged to have failed to investigate properly, for whichthe tribunal said there was no reasonable explanation. Since this was a breach of the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, a 20% uplift was included.