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Bus driver dismissed after failing cocaine test awarded £37,000

Posted: 12th December 2018   In: Individual Employment

A bus driver who was dismissed after testing positive for cocaine has been awarded more than £37,000 compensation.

Ken Ball, aged 62, worked for First Essex buses. He was dismissed after failing a saliva test for cocaine in 2017.

He brought an unfair dismissal claim to the Employment Tribunal, saying that his test may have been contaminated because he had handled money given to him by students using his bus service.

Mr Ball said he was diabetic and had to prick his fingers for blood sugar testing. This made his fingers sore and he sometimes had to lick them to prevent bleeding. He said that licking his fingers after handling contaminated money may have led to the test showing positive.

He paid privately for two hair follicle tests in which he tested negative for cocaine and benzoylecgonine. However, the company refused to take the tests into account during the disciplinary proceedings.

The tribunal found in Mr Ball’s favour. Employment Judge Tobin said Mr Ball had a 21-year unblemished career as a driver for the company, yet it had refused to give full weight to his evidence.

The judge added: "He explained that he had come back from a busy shift where he had picked up a lot of students and handled cash.

"He claimed that the constant handling of money and hand-to-mouth interaction potentially contaminated the sample."

"To discount evidence on such a basis was illogical, grossly unfair and in breach of the disciplinary procedures."

Mr Ball was awarded £37,369 compensation.

Please contact Sorcha Monaghan if you would like advice about making an employment law claim.

Posted by: Sorcha Monaghan
Luton Office