A bus driver who was sacked after testing positive for cocaine has won almost £40,000 in compensation at an employment tribunal.
Kenneth Ball, 62, from Canvey, failed a random drugs test after a shift in June 2017 when he worked for First Buses. Dad-of-two Mr Ball, who had a previously unblemished 21-year career, insisted he had never taken drugs and blamed the result on cocaine getting into his saliva from bank notes.Well, when I'm at a cashpoint, the very first thing I do before tucking the cash away is lick them.
But that's not what happened, according to the driver.
As a diabetic, Mr Ball said he had to test his blood sugar every two hours, resulting in sore fingertips which he said he licked continuously. The tribunal heard that the "constant handling of money and hand-to-mouth interaction potentially contaminated the sample".Convincing? Hmm. I'm not so sure.
In a bid to clear his name, Mr Ball had his hair follicles tested at his own expense. The tests showed no traces of cocaine in his system but the company disregarded this evidence because it was "not part of the company's procedure", the court heard.Is the company not entitled to say what it considers to be part of its procedure? If it tells employees up front, then surely the answer can only be 'Yes'.?
Employment Judge Tobin noted that in criminal proceedings, hair follicle testing is accepted as more reliable than saliva tests. Referring to them variously as “puerile” and “grossly unfair”, judge Tobin found that the managers throughout the hierarchy of the company were “committed to one outcome only and that was to find the claimant guilty”.Tobin has form for bonkers decisions. But does this leave the police wide open to similar claims by drug drivers? Will they too start to need hair samples?
Still, there's always the comments to leaven the subject with a bit of humour: