Mr. Rice emailed a supervisor at his Geebung depot a notice that he had been prescribed medicinal cannabis. Less than three weeks later, he was assigned light duties, according to court documents.
On January 21, 2021, Mr. Rice was informed that QR’s chief medical officer had found him temporarily unfit for work and he was removed from his post with pay.
In February 2021, Mr. Rice’s mother passed away. As a result, his life insurance and pension fund payments ceased, leaving Mr. Rice as his family’s sole financial support.
Mr. Rice contacted QR on February 25, expressing his desire to return to work and offering to refrain from his medication. He returned to work shortly after.
On June 1, Mr. Rice was subjected to a random drug test. He said he had started taking his medication again and had taken a dose two nights earlier. It would not have been noted on his form.
His test results came back positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, a main component of cannabis. That day, he received a letter from QR suspending him, according to court documents.
On August 16, Mr. Rice received a notice of termination.
Mr Rice’s attorney Jeremy Kennedy, who took charge of the case without charge, said he was not aware of any similar cases and believed it would be a test case for future claims .
“The proof is that providing the drug like any prescription, there is no impairment at work,” he said.
âThis drug has prejudices and social stigma.
“We believe this is a social issue that needs to be determined by the courts to try to change the employers’ perspective on this drug and how it should be used and viewed in the workplace. . “
Mr. Kennedy said that by the time the case came to an end, Mr. Rice could have suffered a year or two of economic loss and be entitled to $ 200,000 or more in compensation, plus damages.
A spokeswoman for QR said in a statement that since the case is in court, little comment can be made on the case.
âSafety is Queensland Rail’s number one priority, all employees and contractors must be fit for duty at all times while on duty,â he says.
“This includes a blood alcohol level of zero and a level of other drugs below the target concentration level as described in the Australian standard.”
The case will be heard in court for the first time on Tuesday.