Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Substance Abuse -- From Snow Plows to Bus Drivers

Yesterday I reported on a lawsuit filed by a former snow plow driver who was legally intoxicated while on the job.  Today, I am reporting on the case of a school bus driver who tested positive for marijuana.  You won't believe the result. 

The Shenendehowa School District in upstate New York fired Cynthia DiDomenicantonio after she tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test.  The driver demanded arbitration pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). 

The school district argued that it had a zero-tolerance policy with respect to positive drug tests.  But no written document was produced.  Thus, the arbitrator concluded that suspension or other action less drastic than dismissal was permitted.  The arbitrator concluded that per the CBA the punishment should have been a six-month dismissal followed by reinstatement. 

Ironically, the CBA indicated that the punishment for a positive drug test could include fines, suspension or dismissal.  However, even the court, on appeal, concluded that the arbitrator's award did not violate public policy and therefore could not be modified. 

My question to you is this -- Do you want Cynthia DeDomenicantonio driving your children to and from school?  Should an employer, charged with the care of our children, be limited to a short suspension?  What about a company that hires safety-sensitive employees?  Should they be subject to discipline short of termination for failing a drug test? 

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