Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2008
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2008, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Terri Theodore, Canadian Press


VANCOUVER - The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that a window
contractor discriminated against an employee because his physical
disability allowed him to smoke medical marijuana.

The company has been told to pay $500 for injury to the man's dignity,
feelings and self-respect.

Greg Wilson's claim against Transparent Glazing Systems alleged he was
fired after a superintendent's letter sent to company management said
Mr. Wilson's medication seemed to impair his ability to do the job.

Mr. Wilson, who smokes pot for migraine headaches and bulging back
discs, denied the allegation at a hearing last May.

Company officials told the rights tribunal that Mr. Wilson was fired
because he was disrespectful, verbally abusive and difficult to work

In her ruling, tribunal member Diane MacLean wrote that while there
was little disagreement between the events, the conclusions drawn were
very different.

"[Mr. Wilson] viewed himself as an experienced and competent
tradesperson," Ms. MacLean said. "He felt that his difficulties on the
job had to do with the attitudes and work ethics of his

Philip Aquin, the owner of Transparent Glazing, said during the
hearing that Mr. Wilson was given the opportunity to run a project,
but it was apparent that he was not qualified to do the job.

The hearing was told that company managers even held an emergency
meeting about Mr. Wilson's temper and attitude.

"Mr. Wilson was throwing tantrums, including throwing material
around," Ms. MacLean wrote.

Mr. Wilson objected to the reference in the supervisor's note that his
medication impaired his ability to do his work.

"Mr. Wilson believed that the superintendent was referring to his
marijuana use and, since he had a medical marijuana licence, he was
doing nothing illegal," Ms. MacLean stated.

Mr. Aquin fired Mr. Wilson in March, 2006, nine months after he was
hired, saying that no employee wanted to work with him and that the
superintendent's letter was the "final straw."

Ms. MacLean ruled the company discriminated against Mr. Wilson because
of his physical disability.

"Mr. Wilson also maintained, and I agree, that he was adversely
treated because he was not given an opportunity to respond to
allegations regarding drug use."

She said Transparent Glazing Systems had a duty to ask whether Mr.
Wilson's disability was affecting his performance.

Ms. MacLean did not order the company to pay for lost wages, saying
Mr. Wilson likely would have been fired in any event over his

She noted that Mr. Wilson denied during the hearing that pot smoking
had any impact on his job abilities.

"However, I accept that there was an insult to his dignity when TGS
appeared to rely on the superintendent's perception that Mr. Wilson
was impaired due to his medication."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek