Firing worker for DWI with company truck reasonable: Board

Employee denied having more than a couple of drinks but blew nearly three times the legal limit

A British Columbia company’s firing of an employee who drove a company truck while intoxicated and got into an accident was reasonable, the B.C. Arbitration Board has ruled. Roy Moore was a foreman for Victoria-based road builder Island Slipform Inc. Island Slipform has a safety policy distributed to employees and communicated in annual classes that requires employees to report accidents and injuries involving company vehicles as soon as possible and prohibits the operation of company equipment or vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The policy is clear that a breach could lead to dismissal.

On March 23, 2007, Moore received permission to take the company truck to a funeral. The funeral and reception ran from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There was an open bar and Moore claimed he had two and possibly three beers.

While heading home around 8:30 p.m., Moore’s truck collided with another car. The other driver was injured and a child was unhurt.

Moore told a police officer he hadn’t had any drinks but the officer used a breathalyser test on him. The device indicated “fail,” which meant Moore was at least .10 over the legal limit of .08. He asked Moore to blow again, which resulted in a reading of .213. Moore’s licence was suspended and the company truck impounded for 24 hours. Moore was carrying a company cellphone and had a list of company numbers in the truck but didn’t try to call anyone as he thought it was too late.

He told his supervisor the next morning he was in a “minor accident” but didn’t mention the other driver’s injury or the breathalyser test. When Island Slipform investigated, Moore insisted the accident was the other driver’s fault and denied having any drinks. The company didn’t believe him and he was suspended without pay. The next day, March 27, 2007, Moore was terminated. He filed a grievance, claiming the termination was excessive.

The board found Moore hadn’t been honest as the breathalyser showed he had more to drink than he admitted. It also found driving a company vehicle while intoxicated was a serious offence.

The board also found Island Slipform’s policy for reporting accidents was reasonable since it had “a direct and material interest if its equipment were involved, or if its employees were engaged in conduct which was detrimental to its reputation.” Despite Moore’s 16 years of seniority with a discipline-free record, driving the company truck while intoxicated and failing to give a timely and truthful report of the accident were serious enough breaches of company policy to warrant dismissal, the board ruled.

“(Moore) was unwilling to admit his misconduct,” the board said. “Confidence cannot be taken from his apology and the potential for rehabilitating the employment relationship is doubtful.” See Island Slipform Inc. v. O.P.C.M.I.A., Local 919, 2007 CarswellBC 3218 (B.C. Arb. Bd.).

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