The Fair Work Commission has reversed an earlier ruling of one of its judges ordering the reinstatement of a worker who was dismissed for testing positive for marijuana after he crashed one his employer’s ferries.
Employee violated zero tolerance drug policy
Sitting with a full bench, the FWC found the dismissal of the employee by Harbour City Ferries Pty Ltd to be fair, even though the positive drug test didn’t really prove that the ferry master was drug-impaired when the Marjorie Jackson ferry collided with the Cabarita Wharf on the Parramatta River in Sydney in July 2013. No one was hurt during the accident, but Harbour City Ferries sacked the long-serving ferry master just the same for being a marijuana user and violating its zero tolerance drug policy.
The recent FWC ruling came after Harbour City Ferries appealed the reinstatement order, which was issued by FWC Deputy President Jeff Lawrence. Deputy President Lawrence called the ferry master’s dismissal as unfair, and ordered his reinstatement in April.
Senior Deputy Presidents Drake and Hamberger and Commissioner Johns, however, opined that the seniority of the ferry master and his “very high level of responsibility” were factors that “attract sympathy when considering outcome, but equally those factors demand a high level of compliance with policy”.
“The mitigating factors referred to and relied on by Deputy President Lawrence are not mitigating factors that address the core issue, which was the serious misconduct which led to the dismissal of [the worker],” they said.
To see the decision in full, click here.