The case for random alcohol testing in dangerous workplaces

Irving Pulp and Paper case dealing with random testing for employees in safety sensitive positions goes before Canada’s top court
By Norm Keith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 02/06/2013

Safety versus employee rights

OnDec. 7, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada heard argument on the subject of random alcohol testing by employers in dangerous workplaces. The case arose from a union grievance and arbitration challenging the policy of Irving Pulp and Paper Limited in New Brunswick. The union had been successful in having the random alcohol testing by employers of certain “safety-sensitive positions” set aside as being unreasonable given the circumstances of the case in lower courts.

Norm Keith represented the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada (CME), one of several intervenors in the proceedings, in support of Irving Pulp and Paper’s position on random alcohol testing. Here is his take on the case and the issue in question.