Saturday 25 November 2017

Luas ordered to reinstate driver following flawed dismissal for being drunk

Driver’s sacking was unfair
Driver’s sacking was unfair

A Luas driver sacked for being drunk at a depot has been told that he must be reinstated.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) said that the employer's investigation and disciplinary process was so flawed that it prejudiced the man, who has not been named.

It ruled the dismissal was unfair and in breach of the principles of natural justice.

During the case, the driver (57) said he was embarrassed after admitting he was drinking all weekend before going to the Red Cow Luas depot on a Monday morning last June.

The man said that he was not a big drinker.

The worker said he was at the depot to collect personal items and not there to drive a tram.

He told his team leader he had drunk four glasses of wine the previous evening before arriving at the depot that morning. His leader said the man was there to work and detected a smell of intoxicating liquor on him.

His leader then informed him he would have to be tested for alcohol and the man failed test one and two in tests for alcohol use.

As a result, on June 15, 2016, the worker was accused of contravening the company's drugs and alcohol policy. The man was subsequently sacked.


At the WRC hearing, the man said he had worked on the Luas for 13 years and had a good reputation and a good working relationship with staff and management.

He said he had been unsuccessful in finding work since and was not optimistic of employment at his age.

Referring to the admission that the driver drank four glasses of wine the night before reporting for duty, WRC adjudication officer Niamh O'Carroll Kelly noted 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," she said.

Ms O'Carroll Kelly said the worker was adamant he was at the depot to collect his identity documentation and not reporting for work.

She said that matters in his favour were 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.

She said the facts against the worker were that he often turned up to work in a tracksuit; he was present on the site at the time he should have been had he been attending for work, and he had not called in to say he would not be attending work that day.

Ms O'Carroll Kelly's ruling concluded: "On the balance of probabilities, I prefer the complainant's evidence.

"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.

"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."

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