Third positive test not enough for firing

The firing of a worker for drug use was not justified even though the man had been suspended twice before, according to the Sala Segunda, the high labor court.

The case involved a laborer working on the Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Reventazón for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The high court affirmed an appeal court decision to give the man money for his discharge. The electrical utility sought to fire the man without employer responsibility, something the court of initial jurisdiction ruled.

Although the labor code is silent on drug use, the use of drugs should be treated the same way as alcohol use, said the court.

The court also said that the drug tests involving blood and urine should be conducted with rigor and confidentiality. The drug involved was marijuana.

The man tested positive twice, but he also tested negative several times, said the summary of the case, which dates from 2012.

Marijuana says in the system for about a month.

The worker was allowed to attend a rehabilitation center, but the court said that no one in the company checked to see that he had done so.

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