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Trucking Company Ordered to Rehire Alcoholic Driver Fired for being Drunk on the Job

August 1, 2023 from Western Standard


A trucking business in Quebec has been ordered to reinstate a driver who was fired after she had at least nine beers before losing control of her truck on a Pennsylvania highway.


“The evening of the accident, she needed to consume,” stated Quebec Arbitration Tribunal (QAT) adjudicator Huguette April in a decision.


“She admits that even though she knew she shouldn’t,” said the adjudicator. Huguette continued saying that the driver felt compelled to do so because it was stronger, like something she couldn’t control.


Yolaine Nadeau, a driver for Groupe Robert, was fired in September after she was found driving drunk. Groupe Robert stated that they made the decision to terminate Nadeau’s employment after the incident occurred and the company thoroughly analyzed and investigated the case.


The charges were described by Groupe Robert as “numerous and of extraordinary gravity.” The driver admitted to drinking alcohol while on duty.  She confessed to drinking alcohol, which resulted in her being engaged in a traffic collision.


The catastrophe severely damaged Groupe Robert’s equipment. Nadeau was apprehended while inebriated, according to police, and every alleged fact was verified. In such cases, the collective agreement was unequivocal.


Drinking alcohol while driving a large vehicle, according to April, is a serious offense. Other drivers could have been seriously injured or killed as a result of the tragedy.


According to QAT arbitrator Francois Hamelin, an alcoholic is frequently the last person to know about his or her handicap and only confesses it to himself or herself when confronted. Nadeau reported that she became aware of her alcoholism immediately following the tragedy.


One week later, she told Groupe Robert of her drinking. April stated that she had no reason to believe she was disabled prior to her termination.


She believes it is the employer’s responsibility to find a reasonable accommodation for her impairment that does not cause undue hardship. April went on to say that it ought to have treated this file from an administrative point of view, as an illness, rather than as a disciplinary measure. As a result, she rescinded the firing.


April stated that if an employer has an alcoholic employee, he or she must ensure that his or her work is done with prudence and safety. It has the authority to impose monitoring measures on Nadeau in this regard, taking into account her personal condition as well as the implications for her employment.


“After analyzing the evidence and case law, weighing the arguments submitted, and deliberating on everything, the court grants the grievance contesting the dismissal of Ms. Yolaine Nadeau,” she added.


Groupe Robert has stated that it will appeal the ruling. “At Groupe Robert, the safety of all road users is our absolute priority,” spokesperson Kim Leclerc stated.


“We have a responsibility to the community to ensure that our employees meet the highest safety standards.”


The RCMP concluded in 2022 that a British Columbia officer who was found passed out in his police vehicle in a Burger King drive-thru after driving drunk and crashing will keep his job.


Constable Blaise Picketts was permitted to keep his vehicle and dog. Picketts was not terminated by the RCMP Board because he was suffering from “undiagnosed and untreated alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.”





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