Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA) wins case for unfairly suspended employee pharmacist

In June 2021, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (QCAT) found the Pharmacy Board of Australia had unfairly placed restrictions on a PPA member’s registration without adequate evidence and lifted all restrictions on the member’s registration.  

The Pharmacy Board suspended the PPA member from practising in December 2018 for failing to attend an expensive drug test they were directed to undertake at their own cost. 

From 2016 onwards, the member had been suspended from practising as a pharmacist or had been forced to work as a pharmacy assistant while undertaking expensive weekly drug tests, despite continuously returning negative test results. 

PPA took on this this case in 2019 and issued an application in QCAT seeking a review of the Pharmacy Board’s decision to place continuous restrictions on the pharmacist’s registration.  

PPA submitted evidence from independent medical professionals which countered the evidence of the Pharmacy Board and demonstrated that an inaccurate diagnosis had been made that the member was suffering from an alcohol abuse disorder.  The independent medical professionals led evidence that the mandated drug test was not suitable as the only evidence in support of the diagnosis.  

The Pharmacy Board spent two full hearing days cross-examining the member which revealed they had a long-standing health condition for which they had received treatment and medication. 

PPA used witnesses in support of the pharmacist’s good work in the community, their current mental health and the absence of any addiction problems. 

QCAT lifted all restrictions on the member’s registration effective from the last day of the hearing. The member is now free to practise as a pharmacist without any restrictions or requirements for further testing. 

Professional Pharmacists Australia Principal Industrial Officer, Jacki Baulch said “We were appalled by the Pharmacy Board’s approach to this case, which discredited our member based on a previous history of mental illness and incorrect/unfounded assumptions about drug and alcohol use.  

All PPA members have access to our Workplace Advice and Support services on Ph 1300 273 762 or Email was@professionalsaustralia.org.au. Qualified lawyers can provide assistance and advice on any workplace matter including problems with your pay or disciplinary action by your employer.  PPA complete members also receive legal representation and advocacy with employers, in the Fair Work Commission, Pharmacy Board and Courts.