Prison worker gets his job back

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - An­drew duffy

OTTAWA • A prison dog han­dler re­spon­si­ble for drug searches has had his fir­ing for drug use over­turned be­cause fed­eral of­fi­cials failed to ac­com­mo­date his dis­abil­ity: a pot ad­dic­tion.

In a re­cent de­ci­sion, the fed­eral labour re­la­tions board con­cluded that the Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice of Canada vi­o­lated Martin Nadeau’s hu­man rights.

It re­placed Nadeau’s dis­missal with a six-month sus­pen­sion and awarded him four years of back pay — more than $250,000.

“By fail­ing to con­sider his dis­abil­ity and by re­fus­ing to con­sider ac­com­mo­da­tion, the em­ployer dis­crim­i­nated against him,” ad­ju­di­ca­tor Steven Katkin ruled.

Nadeau was fired from the max­i­mum-se­cu­rity Don­na­cona In­sti­tu­tion, near Que­bec City, in Novem­ber 2013 — five months af­ter first con­fess­ing to se­nior man­agers that he bought and smoked pot.

Nadeau had told a fel­low dog han­dler about his use of pot and hash, but when he came into con­flict with that col­league — they ar­gued about re­port writ­ing — he wor­ried that he might be ex­posed. So Nadeau de­cided to ad­mit his drug use to cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials in June 2013.

Ini­tially, he told mangers that he smoked a few joints while noodling on his gui­tar. In a sub­se­quent meet­ing with prison war­den Marc Lavoie, Nadeau said he used drugs recre­ation­ally and did not need a re­fer­ral to the em­ployee as­sis­tance pro­gram. Lavoie sus­pended Nadeau while a dis­ci­plinary in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched.

Nadeau told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he would travel to Cowansville, Que., to buy pot — up to 28 grams at a time — from a friend. He ad­mit­ted that he some­times used his cor­rec­tions ve­hi­cle to transport it, and that his de­tec­tion dog was ex­posed to the smell.

Nadeau also told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he’d con­tacted the em­ployee as­sis­tance pro­gram to ad­dress his ad­dic­tion is­sues.

Based on the in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ re­port, the cor­rec­tional ser­vice fired Nadeau, say­ing he had lost its trust. The ser­vice said Nadeau made him­self vul­ner­a­ble to black­mail from or­ga­nized crime, which com­pro­mised his abil­ity to work in­side a pen­i­ten­tiary.

There’s an ac­tive drug trade in­side Cana­dian pris­ons, and de­tec­tor dogs are used to search vis­i­tors, in­com­ing pack­ages and pris­on­ers’ cells for nar­cotics.

The labour re­la­tions board heard Don­na­cona had ex­pe­ri­enced three fa­tal drug over­doses in the pre­ced­ing two years.

Nadeau, hired as a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer in 2006, told the board he was smok­ing up to 15 joints per week by early 2013.

Af­ter he was sus­pended, Nadeau spent one month in a res­i­den­tial treat­ment pro­gram and re­turned four times in an ef­fort to over­come his habit.

In his tes­ti­mony, Nadeau told the hear­ing that he no longer re­lies on pot as the an­swer to his prob­lems.

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