Quick drink before work leads to firing

Car accident on the way to work revealed level of impairment that made it unsafe to work in plant
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/18/2013

A Saskatchewan company had just cause to fire an employee who had alcohol in his system following a car accident on the way to work, a labour adjudicator has ruled.

John Kish was a shift leader at an oil seed crush plant in Yorkton, Sask., operated by LDM Yorkton. He had nine employees reporting to him at the plant, which featured large equipment and high pressure steam to extract oil from canola seeds. In addition, seeds were heated with an explosive solvent and the plant also featured a high pressure boiler and ammonia chilling site. All of these elements created a work environment with potential danger and required a strong focus on safety.

LDM Yorkton’s focus on safety included a drug and alcohol policy that stipulated “an employee who is found to be under the influence on the job will be disciplined and may be dismissed for just cause without notice, pay in lieu of notice, severance, continued health care coverage or any indemnity being provided whatsoever.” The policy also said employees in safety sensitive positions who had addictions to alcohol or drugs that could lead to on-duty impairment had a duty to inform the company so it could take steps to help the employee deal with the addiction and ensure safety in the workplace. Kish was given a copy of the manual containing this policy when he joined LDM Yorkton in the summer of 2009.