Legal News

A disability discrimination claim succeeded where a claimant with depressive illness was dismissed for failing to undergo a drug and alcohol test.

In Chivas Brothers v Christiansen (pdf judgment) the claimant was on his first day of full duties after a phased return due to depression. He began to panic due to workload, and went to sit in a toilet cubicle to be on his own and do breathing exercises. The following week he was asked to do a drug test under the employer’s drug and alchohol policy but refused, believing the employer would ‘fix’ the result to get rid of him. He was subsequently assessed as a very significant suicide risk.

The employer dismissed him for falling asleep and refusing to undergo tests, but the EAT upheld the tribunal’s judgment that this was unlawful disability discrimination. The EAT accepted the importance of the drugs policy and the need to enforce it, but the facts in this case pointed to the dismissal being unjustified.

More: Testing to protect others, including drugs and alcohol>If the Equality Act applies…