July 17, 2014 / 3:13 AM / 5 years ago

Canadian Pacific to fight reinstatement of worker who tested positive for cocaine

Hunter Harrison, CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway Limited addresses shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Sturk

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd will challenge an arbitration decision ordering the company to reinstate a locomotive engineer who tested positive for cocaine, the rail operator said late on Wednesday.

“The arbitrator’s decision is an outrage and, as a railroader, I am appalled we would be forced to place this employee back in the cab of a locomotive,” said Canadian Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Hunter Harrison, in a statement. “On my watch, this individual will not operate a locomotive.”

Harrison said the decision puts individual rights above public safety. He criticized Canadian law that prohibits companies from conducting random drugs and alcohol testing, unlike the United States, where railroads are required to do so under federal law.

Rail safety has come under intense scrutiny following a series of fiery train derailments involving potentially dangerous goods like crude oil. The worst North American rail accident in two decades occurred just over a year ago in Lac Megantic, Quebec, when an unattended runaway train crashed into the town center and killed 47 people.

The employee, who will not be operating a train until the courts have made a ruling, tested positive for cocaine following an incident in which the engineer committed a serious rule violation, Canadian Pacific said.

It plans to ask the Superior Court of Quebec to stay and overturn the July 14 decision by the Canadian Railway Office of Arbitration (CROA).

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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