Driving lesson

Driving test examiner who overdosed on Red Bull and ended up in hospital WINS clearing

Driving test examiner who overdosed on Red Bull after drinking ‘a few’ large cans before his shift and ended up in hospital WIN compensation as court rules he was unfairly dismissed

  • Alan Leslie, 62, required treatment at A&E after suffering from ‘severe abdominal pain’
  • An ex-cop told DVSA he drank ‘a few big cans’ before every shift
  • Employment tribunal in Croydon, London heard Red Bull’s frenzy was ‘not wise’
  • He successfully sued DVSA for wrongful termination and disability discrimination

A driving test examiner who overdosed on Red Bull and ended up in hospital after drinking ‘a few’ large cans before his shift has been compensated.

Alan Leslie, 62, required treatment at A&E after drinking the energy drink for two days, which left him suffering from “severe abdominal pain”.

The ex-policeman had trouble sleeping and was spooked by a near miss on a roundabout, so he started buying loads of the caffeinated drink.

He told his bosses at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that he had “a few big cans” before each shift and had “plenty” of them in stock.

But after completing a shift he had to go to hospital for a ‘caffeine overdose’ and was not released until 3.30am the next day.

An employment tribunal in Croydon, London, heard his Red Bull binge was ‘not wise’.

Mr Leslie’s energy drink health scare came to light as part of his testimony after he successfully sued DVSA for wrongful dismissal and disability discrimination.

Driving test examiner Alan Leslie, 62, required treatment at A&E after drinking the energy drink for two days, leaving him suffering from ‘severe abdominal pain’ (file photo)

The audience was told he joined the DVSA as a new examiner at Burgess Hill, East Sussex, in October 2015, after a career in the police and Ministry of Justice.

The court heard he suffered from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In November 2017 he fell out with bosses and was moved to Hastings after complaining he had been ‘openly bullied’ at a testing centre.

He claimed two female colleagues ‘humiliated’ him by ridiculing a maneuver he performed during a test.

His mental health deteriorated and he believed he had been the subject of a “protracted and pernicious campaign of ostracism, a campaign which threatened his health and safety”.

During his employment, Mr. Leslie had several periods of sick leave due to his mental health.

In August 2018, he suffered from anxiety after a performance review, leading to his Red Bull episode.

A court report said: “His mental health was also severely affected by this exchange. He had more trouble sleeping.

“He lost concentration on the way to work and reacted late for a roundabout. It was a near miss.

‘He phoned [line manager Nicola McLaren] to let him know he was worried about being so tired.

The ex-policeman had trouble sleeping and was spooked by a near miss on a roundabout so he started buying heaps of the caffeinated drink (file photo)

The ex-policeman had trouble sleeping and was spooked by a near miss on a roundabout so he started buying heaps of the caffeinated drink (file photo)

Ms. McLaren suggested she return to occupational medicine for an assessment.

Mr Leslie replied: ‘My concern at the moment is the next two days * Places to stop are minimal.’ I will buy a lot of Red Bull tonight and make sure I have a few big cans before I go each day.

The court report continued: “It did not prove a wise approach.

“After work, after just two more days of work, he had severe abdominal pain and had to go to A&E, which he left at 3.30am.

“They told him it was due to a caffeine overdose. The root of the problem, once again, was his determination to avoid missing work and thus putting his job at risk.

Mr Leslie’s absences continued and bosses grew fed up, particularly with his refusal to stop raising old grievances about the way he had been treated.

He was declared medically fit to work and told bosses he was eager to return, but was sacked in May 2019, with bosses saying he would not put the past behind him despite agreeing.

Labor judge Eoin Fowell ruled that Mr Leslie had been unfairly sacked and discriminated against because of his disability.

Judge Fowell said: ‘The whole approach and reasoning behind the dismissal was flawed, with an excessive focus on this issue of putting the past behind it.’

“The agency’s focus on his move to previous events, and their concern that he won’t let them go and will continue to argue and absorb management time, possibly causing further absences, seems to amount to to a decision to reject outright as a result of these effects.

Mr Leslie, who has lost other discrimination and harassment claims, will receive compensation at an upcoming hearing.

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