The Fair Work Commission in Brisbane has upheld the dismissal of a ‘safety-critical’ worker who lost his job for using medicinal cannabis and failing to disclose changes in his medication regimen.
In October 2021, the worker, whose role involved handling explosives at BMA mines, disclosed that he was using medicinal cannabis to manage anxiety and insomnia.
BMA had concerns about the documentation he provided for his prescription, so he switched to a different medication called fluoxetine, which was prescribed by his general practitioner. He agreed to inform the company about any medication changes that might affect his work.
In February 2023, the worker was required to undergo a drug test after a safety incident, which led to him revealing that he had resumed using medicinal cannabis.
Subsequently, he was terminated from his job for not disclosing his medicinal cannabis use to the company.
He argued that his dismissal was unfair, stating that he experienced side effects from the new medication, only used cannabis during his time off, and believed that his off-duty use should not be regulated by the employer.
The commission disagreed and stated that the company had to consider the risks associated with his anxiety and insomnia, which the cannabis was helping to manage, even outside of work.
The commission found that the worker should have informed BMA about his medication changes, as it was part of their policy, and noted that he had been asked multiple times to disclose his medications.