City worker openly snorts drug on London Underground train

Shocking video footage showing individuals taking drugs is becoming more and more common, and the latest video to emerge is that of 23-year-old sales executive Tom Osborne as he happily snorts a powder from his hand on a London Underground train in front of fellow Northern Line passengers.

But what if his employer sees the footage, what then for the wayward Mr Osborne?

Osborne may believe that as he is taking the drugs in his own time and outside of work then his actions will not have any effect on him at work, but employers take a dim view of things like substance abuse, even if they are taken in private.

In fact, BMC Group, the data room firm listed as Mr Osborne’s employer on his LinkedIn profile have been swift in responding to his drug taking allegations and have said: “We are aware of the story and are investigating the matter. We do not condone illegal activities among our employees and will take proper action within our disciplinary policy.”

But what is the legal situation here?  Michael Lewin Solicitors, Head of Employment, Ian Abel explains “This story has moved on quickly over the last couple of days. The man in the video has now been identified and his employer have moved quickly to confirm they are investigating the matter. However I would suggest the outcome is not going to be good for Mr Osborne. There are a number of different routes his employer could follow, all likely to result in Mr Osborne’s summarily dismissal for his conduct. Firstly if his employer had an Alcohol, Drugs and Other Substances Policy they could take disciplinary action under this. This may involve the employer asking the employee for his consent to a drug test. If he agrees and fails – he could be dismissed, and equally if he refused to give his permission for a test, his employer could draw adverse inferences from this and move to dismiss anyway.”

“Another option for his employer would be to rely on the more general allegation that his conduct has brought the company into disrepute. Now that Mr Osborne has been named, but more importantly his employer named, and plastered all over the national press, it would be relatively easy for them to dismiss him, with the implication that the public now think that the BMC Group allow or condone drug taking by their employees. I would suggest that as long as the company followed a proper process any such dismissal would likely be fair.”

“Finally I would mention that the two routes the company could follow detailed above are if Mr Osborne had worked for the company for over two years. Given that we know he is a university graduate and only 23, it would seem likely that he may well have under two years’ service – in which case the company could simply move to sack him without holding a proper process, as without 2 years continuous service there is no protection from unfair dismissal under UK employment law.”

If any business is worried about their Alcohol, Drugs and Other Substances Policy (or any other Employment Policy), Michael Lewin Solicitors can write or check them for a simple fixed fee – simply call us on 0844 499 9302 or email employs@michaellewin.co.uk.

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