Luas driver sacked for being over the alcohol limit will get his job back

The driver failed two tests after arriving at the depot and told his Team Leader he had four glasses of wine the previous evening.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered that a Luas driver be reinstated after he was sacked for being over the alcohol limit at a depot.

The WRC found his employer’s investigation and disciplinary process was so flawed it prejudiced the man, was unfair and breached principles of natural justice.

The tribunal heard the driver was embarrassed after admitting he was drinking all weekend before going to the Luas depot on a Monday morning last June.

The unnamed worker said he was at the Red Cow base to collect personal items and not there to drive a tram.

He told his Team Leader he had four glasses of wine the previous evening before arriving at the depot that morning.

The team leader said the man was there to work and smelled alcohol from him.

He then told him that he would have to be tested for alcohol and failed both.

As a result of failing the alcohol tests on June 15, 2016 at Red Cow Luas Depot, the worker was accused of contravening the company’s Drugs and Alcohol policy due to his test results exceeding the also limits set out in the policy.

The man was subsequently sacked. At the hearing, the man said he worked on the Luas for 13 years and has a good reputation and a good working relationship with staff and management.

The 57-year-old said that hasn’t found a job since and is not hopeful of doing so because of his age.

Referring to the admission that the driver had drunk four glasses of wine the night before reporting for duty, WRC Adjudication Officer, Niamh O’Carroll Kelly said: “I note that at no point in the investigation or at the disciplinary hearing did anyone ask the complainant how large the glasses of wine were.

“I would have expected that to be established prior to brandishing the complainant a liar.”

Ms O’Carroll Kelly said that the worker is adamant was at the depot to collect his identity documentation and not there reporting for work.

She said that matters in his favour was that he was not wearing his uniform; did not have a uniform in his locker; did not have his tram key; did not have his glasses and never made any attempt to make his way up to the control room to sign on.

Ms O’Carroll Kelly said the facts against the worker are that the worker often came to work in a track suit; was present on the site at the exact time he should have been had he been attending for work and he hadn’t called in to say he wouldn’t be attending work that day.

In her ruling, Ms O’Carroll Kelly concluded “on the balance of probabilities, I prefer the complainant’s evidence”

She explained: “I do so because the complainant had been working for the respondent for a period of 13 years and had no history of breaching the drugs and alcohol policy before.

She said: “His explanation that he needed to get his identification documents out of his locker so that he could withdraw money from the bank is a credible one.

“Furthermore, it is conceded that he needs glasses for work and that he didn’t have them on that date.”

Ms O’Carroll Kelly stated that the man’s claim succeeds and ruled that he be reinstated into the same role he held before, with the same terms and conditions as those prior to his dismissal.

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