Random Drug Testing

Posted by Johannes Schenk on January 25th, 2007 — Posted in Employment Law, Human Rights Law, Labour Law

Randomn drug testing in the workplace is one of those issues that continues to provide employers, unions and employees a difficult roadmap to follow. Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 900 v. Imperial Oil Ltd., a decison of Arbitrator Picher, deals with the issue at length and sets out a framework for acceptable practices based on Canadian precedent.

The case discusses the use of oral swabs tro detect marijuana use and rejects random testing even if the swab method could show present drug related impairment.

In particular, the case applies several guidelines in rejecting a blanket random testing approach;

Employees may not be subjected to random, unannounced alcohol or drug testing, except as part of an agreed rehabilitative program.

Employers may require alcohol or drug testing of an employee in the case of reasonable cause .

Management’s rights under a collective agreement include the right to require alcohol or drug testing following a significant incident, accident or near miss.

Drug and alcohol testing is a legitimate part of continuing contracts of employment for individuals found to have alcohol or drug use problems. This is an exceptional circumstance in which protected employee interests in privacy and dignity of the person yield to the interests of safety and rehabilitation, and allow for random and unannounced alcohol or drug testing.

An employee’s refusal or failure to undergo an alcohol or drug test in the three circumstances described above may be viewed as a serious violation of the employer’s drug and alcohol policy, and may be separate grounds for serious discipline.

A very important case to read for those in the HR and LR community.

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