Alcoholic bridge operator damages ship, gets sober and gets reinstated

St. Lawrence Seaway Authority v. CAW-Canada, Local 4212, 2003 CarswellNat 3934 (Can. Arb. Bd.)

The worker operated a bridge for the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority. On Aug. 11, 2001, he finished work and went home where he drank some wine and took some medication.

He was later called back for overtime and caused an accident which damaged a ship. He was fired.

The worker is an admitted alcoholic. This contributed to the accident. It also placed his employer under a duty of accommodation under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The worker had been sober since February 2002, had treatment for his alcoholism and regularly attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.

The arbitrator decided that because of his extensive efforts at rehabilitation, he should be reinstated under the following conditions:

•he will work as a cleaner (at his former level of pay);

•after two years he can return to his old position;

•he must attend weekly AA meetings;

•he must continue doctor-supervised follow-up treatment for his alcoholism for two years;

•he will periodically be tested for drugs and alcohol for two years;

•he must participate in his employer’s monitoring program (as part of the company’s employee assistance plan) for eight months; and

•he will receive pay retroactive to the date he was fired.

If the worker fails to comply with the conditions he can be fired.

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