Bus driver Alan Bailes was fired from his job after a routine drugs test by his employers- FirstGroup of Bristol.
Traces of cocaine were found in his Saliva, for which he was sacked. Today he won substantial damages, after a judge found him to have been wrongly dismissed. Alan Baites took his case to court after telling his former employers of 22 years that he was innocent. The father-of-two had argued with the FirstGroup that he did not smoke cigarettes or take drugs. His employers sacked him regardless, causing him and his family unnecessary hardship.
Bailes carried out a more thorough test on himself to show he was Cocaine free at the time. He also researched online and found that most of banknotes he handles daily, could be contaminated with traces of Cocaine.
The judge ruled that banknotes in general circulation are or could be contaminated by cocaine. His solicitors estimate that in the UK upwards of 88% of banknotes carry detectable traces of cocaine.
The Guardian reports: The father-of-two from Bristol spent £440 for a more accurate hair follicle test with his GP, which he said proved there had been no drugs in his system for 90 days. But he was not given his job back. He said: “We were left feeling stressed, incredibly worried and upset, all for something I didn’t do.”
Bailes and his family set about researching the possible reasons for the initial positive test, found a news article on how many banknotes are contaminated with cocaine and, backed by the Unite union, took the company to a tribunal.
He said on the day of the test he handled several hundred pounds of cash. Bailes added that he did not wash his hands before the test, increasing the likelihood of the drug being transferred from cash to his hands and on to the test swab.
“I hadn’t smoked cigarettes for 16 years and I have never taken drugs in my life,” he said. “It was contamination off the banknotes.”
Bailes’ wife, Rita, added: “The whole thing was a complete and utter nightmare. They put us in severe financial hardship for something he didn’t even do. He has been completely stressed out throughout the whole thing.”
Employment judge Christa Christensen said in her ruling: “The respondent [First West of England] was aware that banknotes in general circulation are or could be contaminated by cocaine. “This in turn means that it was incumbent on the respondent, as part of a reasonable investigatory process, to investigate the possibility that that reality may have some significance to the claimant’s positive cocaine drug test.”
Bruce Robin at Thompsons Solicitors, who represented the driver, said: “Mr Bailes and his family have suffered enormously and it was particularly pleasing to see the tribunal back his version of events.
“In particular, they entirely accepted that his future career prospects have been affected by the unfair dismissal, and that there was an onus on the employer to carry out proper investigations before dismissing such a long-serving employee with an impeccable record.”
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