labourcourtsGroundUp reports that a long-serving employee who was fired after repeatedly testing positive for cannabis, in breach of the company’s rules, has failed in her bid to be reinstated.

Bernadette Enever, who had been employed in an office position at Barloworld Equipment since 2007, said she used cannabis oil for medicinal reasons and smoked it recreationally for “spiritual” reasons”. She wanted the Labour Court to declare her dismissal in April 2020 to be grounded in “unfair discrimination” and automatically an unfair dismissal. But Johannesburg Labour Court Acting Judge Makosho Ntsoane dismissed her application, saying the company treated all employees the same. If Enever needed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, she should have presented evidence of that. Instead she had only made the claim as an “afterthought”, after she had been caught out. The judge noted the company had a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol and drugs and required employees to undergo regular tests. When Enever had first tested positive, she was placed on seven-day “cleaning up” leave, a process which entailed that the test would be repeated weekly until she tested negative. Enever continued to fail the weekly tests for a month and she was charged with breaching the company’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Policy. Following a hearing, she was fired, with the chairperson indicating that there was no point in giving her a final written warning because she had “unequivocally refused to give up consumption of the cannabis”. The judge dismissed Enever’s claims of discrimination and automatically unfair dismissal, but made no order as to costs.

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