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Spanish court rules man was wrongfully sacked for drinking at work

A high court in Murcia, Spain has ruled in favour of a worker who was sacked for drinking on the job, ruling that it could not be proven that he was “inebriated, intoxicated or drunk”.

An electrical company has been ordered by a court  in Spain to reinstate the employee or pay him compensation of €47,000 (£42,000).

The man, who had worked as an electrician at the company for 27 years, was sacked after a private detective hired by the firm found him drinking on the job on several days in July 2021.

The employee received a dismissal letter on 5 July which stated he was being fired for “repeated and excessive alcohol consumption during the working day, which endangered his physical wellbeing and that of his workmates” both while on the job and while driving the company van, according to The Guardian.

The letter contained details of one day in particular in which the detective found several instances of the employee drinking alcohol while working.

At 8:27am, the man was first seen with a colleague stopping for a drink in a bar, the letter said. However, it was not specified by the detective as to whether this drink was alcoholic. Later, the two allegedly purchased lunch along with four cans of San Miguel beer and a litre bottle of Estrella de Levante beer. The man in question then followed this up with two extra beers, one in the afternoon and one around 6:30pm, before he drove the van back to the company’s base, according to reports.

Further accounts from the detective describe similar days of heavy drinking including one, two weeks later, where he was seen consuming a total of seven litres of beers between himself and a colleague.

Despite this, the court ruled that the sacking of the man was unfounded since his reports did not at any time mention signs of drunkenness.

The court said: “There is no proof – documentary, expert or witness – that unequivocally demonstrates that the man was under the effects of alcohol and was inebriated, intoxicated or drunk”, The Guardian reported.

It added that there were no reports which indicated that the drinking impaired the employees ability to carry out his job or drive the company van and that the drinking mostly occurred during breaks. It said that “whether in a healthy fashion or not”, it was necessary for the workers to “take refreshments”.

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