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Sacked pot smoking worker wins payout

14:30 AEST Tue Jul 3 2012
Worker sacked for smoking pot wins payout
Worker sacked for smoking pot wins payout

A Christchurch man who was sacked after being accused of smoking marijuana on the job has been awarded $13,760 in compensation for wrongful dismissal.

Consortium Construction carpenter Matthew O'Connell was working on the third floor of an earthquake damaged building in Christchurch last December when he was allegedly caught smoking the drug, TVNZ reports.

Site foreman Jonathan Small said he could smell cannabis smoke coming from Mr O'Connell's rolled cigarette, and instructed him to put it out.

Mr Small reported the incident to management but Mr O'Connell denies he was smoking marijuana.

After declining a drug test Mr O'Connell was sacked two days later.

New Zealand's Employment Relations Authority said Mr O'Connell was unfairly dismissed because he was not given the details of the allegations against him or an opportunity to comment, refute or explain them.

The ERA blasted Mr O'Connell for taking drugs in a dangerous work environment but awarded him $6760 in lost wages and $6000 in compensation.