United Kingdom

Recycling worker wins unfair dismissal case after being sacked for failing a drugs test

A recycling worker sacked for failing a drugs test has won an unfair dismissal case after a judge accepted he was taking cannabis for his bad back.

Carl Pamment used the class B drug to tackle severe pain and help him sleep.

It helped him return to work after being off sick and did not affect his performance, the employment tribunal heard.

But his bosses at Renewi UK Services fired him, claiming he posed a safety risk because he was 'under the influence'.

A recycling worker sacked for failing a drugs test has won an unfair dismissal case after a judge accepted he was taking cannabis for his bad back (stock image)

Now Mr Pamment, who had 14 years' service, is in line to win his job back after a judge ruled the firm failed to consider his reasons for taking cannabis. 

Judge Paul Housego said: 'His motivation was not hedonistic. What is undoubted is that Mr Pamment's back problem was entirely genuine.

'He had frequent visits to the doctor. He was given various different medications to help the pain including morphine patches. None seemed to work for him.'

Renewi fired Mr Pamment for gross misconduct in April last year. Bosses claimed he was a risk as a team leader and driver for the firm in east London.

Now Mr Pamment, who had 14 years' service, is in line to win his job back after a judge ruled the firm failed to consider his reasons for taking cannabis (stock image)

But the tribunal, which was held remotely, found he was only a driver's mate and cannabis did not impact his work.

In ruling that Mr Pamment was unfairly dismissed, Judge Housego said that the only reason the company had for firing him was that cannabis was illegal.

However, the judge said the firm had not taken into account the circumstances.

'Mr Pamment had given an entirely credible reason why he took the cannabis - he was not a recreational user,' he said.

'There had been no incidence of poor performance and no concerns raised about him or his work.

'No account was taken of the genuine reason for taking the cannabis. Likewise for of his long unblemished service. It was taken to be gross misconduct because it was a failed test, without any assessment of the circumstances.'

A new hearing will be set to determine what damages Mr Pamment – who would like his job back – receives.

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