A rail inspector with ‘shy bladder syndrome’, who was unable to give a urine sample for drug testing, has won £90,000 in compensation because he had a medical condition.
Mr Smith, who worked for Network Rail, had a condition which meant he found it difficult to provide a sample when his employer called him in for a random check.
He offered to carry out a blood test instead, but was dismissed for gross misconduct after a brief disciplinary process. At the time, Mr Smith’s condition was undiagnosed, but later received a diagnosis from a GP of “paruresis” or shy bladder syndrome.
Mr Smith had been called for drug testing with a number of other colleagues in July 2019, and he informed the testing officer he sometimes had difficulty providing urine. An employment tribunal last year heard that he had “been inconvenienced on a few social occasions over a number of years”, but had managed to provide samples in previous tests.
Alcohol and drug testing
In judgment, Employment Judge Craft said: “He had no reason to believe that this would impact on the safe performance of his job.
“His GP’s diagnosis confirmed that he was suffering from paruresis (shy bladder syndrome) and that this had prevented him from providing a sample to the testing officer.”
He added that the company’s decision to sack Mr Smith was “flawed and ill-considered” and that at no point had the claimant attempted to evade drug testing, ordering Network Rail to reinstate him in his role. Mr Smith was successful in his claim for unfair dismissal.
However, Network Rail was concerned that reinstating Mr Smith in his role would “lead other employees to conclude that the claimant had found a loophole in Network Rail’s alcohol and drug policy which they will then exploit for their own benefit”.
The company said there had been a breakdown of trust between the two parties and argued that he should not be reinstated.
In response, the remedy hearing ordered Network Rail to pay the claimant almost £90,000 in compensation, including loss of earnings and future losses.