The manager of a day care centre accused one of her employees of turning up to work “stoned” several times. After her concerns were raised with the employee, who had been sent home after appearing to be under the influence of drugs, the manager decided to hold an emergency meeting at which, she said the employee appeared to be “totally stoned out of her brains”.

The former employee has raised personal grievance claims against her employer after the accusations of drug, use which she claimed disadvantaged her in the workplace. She also claims her resignation was a constructive dismissal on the part of the employer.

The Employment Relations Authority found that a fair and reasonable employer could carry out a discrete and separate investigation into the allegations before action was taken. This could have included interviews with other staff members, for example. This information could have been used to have a more accurate and fair account of whether the employee had been under the influence of drugs, even though it was the genuine belief of the manager.

The ERA found that the allegations became known in the work place and disadvantaged the employee in her employment considerably.

In terms of the constructive dismissal, the ERA could not find evidence that the employer had forced her resignation.

The ERA awarded the employee $2,000 compensation, this was because the employer did not carry out a fair and reasonable investigation and disciplinary process and this caused hurt and humiliation. No lost wages were awarded as the employee resigned and was not dismissed.


Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer