The termination of an employee observed using cannabis while driving a Town vehicle has been upheld in Saskatchewan. In The Town of Kindersley v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2740, the board of arbitration determined that termination was appropriate, even though the Grievor had medical authorization to use cannabis during work hours and had no prior discipline.
The Grievor had authorization from his physician to use cannabis during the work day to treat headaches, provided he did not operate a Zamboni, forklift or lawn mower for 20 to 30 minutes after use. For safety reasons, and with consent of the Grievor and the Union, the Grievor was moved from his position at the Town’s arena to a position in the parks department, which was less stressful and required less interaction with the public. The Grievor’s consumption of cannabis decreased as a result of the move.
During a work trip to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, approximately 300 km away from Kindersley, two Town employees observed the Grievor using cannabis while driving them to Humboldt and during the time they spent there. After concluding an investigation into the matter, the Grievor was terminated from his employment. The termination letter indicated the Grievor’s employment was being terminated as he was impaired while operating or being in control of the Town vehicle.
While the board of arbitration determined the Town had not proven the Grievor was impaired, as alleged in the termination letter, it held the Grievor’s use of cannabis while operating the Town vehicle could not be ignored and the decision to terminate his employment was justified.
The board of arbitration provided a further final comment, indicating that it did not endorse the restriction on the operation of equipment for only 20 to 30 minutes after the consumption of cannabis as an acceptable waiting period.