Pubdate: Fri, 16 Dec 2016
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2016 The Telegram
Author: Cory Hurley
Page: B7


Man secretly smoked medical marijuana

All may not be lost for a Muskrat Falls worker fighting his dismissal
last year for secretly smoking medicinal marijuana on the job.

Brendon Uprichard - a structural assembler of the transmission line
for Valard Construction on the Lower Churchill project - had a
prescription for medical marijuana to control chronic back pain and
anxiety since December 2014. The 37-year-old hid this from his
employer, and discontinued its usage to pass the mandatory physical
examination and testing for drug and alcohol use upon being hired.

His doctor advised him on the amounts he could use, and cautioned him
not to operate machinery for four hours after taking the drug. While
on the job from April to August 2015, he brought his supply of
marijuana with him to the worksite on each 21-day rotation, he told
the court. He kept it off camp, hidden in a ditch, and would regularly
go to smoke the prescribed amount after his shift. He claims he was
careful not to smoke it at the site or during working hours.

A manager later smelled marijuana in the truck, and the employees were
questioned. Uprichard confessed to what he was doing. He was allowed
to continue working, but was fired five days later.

His termination was grieved in an arbitration hearing in November
2015. In March of this year, the arbitrator upheld the termination and
dismissed the grievance. The arbitrator's decision was based on
Uprichard failing to report and disclose the usage, violating the
standards set by his employer and the Canadian model for providing a
safe workplace.

Uprichard also admitted to possessing marijuana at the camp on the
days he reported. The arbitrator ruled the dismissal was just, despite
no indication of impairment at work and not accepting the allegation
Uprichard smoked marijuana on the worksite.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1620,
continued to fight for Uprichard. The union sought a judicial review
of the decision, asking for it to be quashed and the termination
reversed. To reverse the firing, the union sought to have the matter
sent back to an arbitrator for reconsideration.

Justice Alphonsus Faour oversaw the judicial review Nov. 28 in St.
John's, and presented his decision Dec. 5.

Although he concluded the arbitrator's decision met the standard of
reasonableness with respect to the elements of the misconduct alleged,
Faour said the arbitrator failed to provide justification,
transparency and intelligibility with respect to the appropriateness
of the dismissal. Therefore, he sent that issue back to the arbitrator
for further assessment.

Faour said there was clear evidence Uprichard followed his physician's
advice conscientiously and used the prescription only for its intended
purpose, his work record disclosed no problems, he had been working
safely on the project and the employer had no concerns about safety as
he was allowed to continue working for five days.

Faour ruled the arbitrator should have considered whether a lesser
penalty would have been appropriate. He may have determined the
sanction appropriate regardless, according to the justice, but without
an analysis that can't be determined.
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