Miner tests positive for meth, loses unfair dismissal claim

A miner has lost his claim for unfair dismissal after he was fired for lying about his drug use.

Anglo American sacked Drayton South operator Stephen Vaughan in April last year after he tested positive for methamphetamine.

Releasing its verdict on Christmas Eve the Fair Work Commission has sided with Anglo American saying the employee was dismissed as a result of “his lack of openness”.

Vaughan filed a claim for unfair dismissal with the Fair Work Commission on the grounds that the company usually doesn’t dismiss workers for their first fail, rather it issues a disciplinary warning and conducts performance management.

 On April 5 Vaughan was selected for a random drug and alcohol screening.

Prior to the screening he completed a form asking if he had taken any drugs prescription or otherwise in the weeks leading up to the test.

Vaughan admitted to taking cold and flu tablets but his test returned a positive result for methylamphetamine.

A further laboratory test was positive for amphetamine and methylamphetamine.

It wasn’t until April 11 that Vaughan admitted to taking an “unknown substance” at a party on April 4.

“I had done something silly at a party and taken a capsule but I do not know what was in the capsule I had taken,” Vaughan said.

Defending its decision to fire Vaughan, Anglo American said the employee’s contract was axed because he was dishonest during the investigation into the positive drug test, not because he failed the test.

“As a result of your dishonesty during the course of the investigation your employment with Anglo Coal/Drayton Management Pty Ltd is terminated, effective immediately,” Anglo’s dismissal letter to Vaughan stated.

“Your dishonesty during the investigation means that the Company cannot be confident that you will be honest with it in the future. You have therefore destroyed the relationship of trust and confidence between the company and yourself.”

The workplace relations tribunal found that despite maintaining a good working record over the four years he was employed with the miner the dismissal should stand.

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