Worker’s firing after cocaine-fuelled accident upheld

Safety sensitive employer’s drug and alcohol policy didn’t discriminate because worker had chance to seek help without penalty before accident
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/16/2015

An Alberta worker's dismissal after he admitted to using cocaine following a workplace incident was not discriminatory because the worker had an opportunity to seek help for his addiction beforehand, the Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled.
Ian Stewart was a heavy equipment operator for Elk Valley Coal Corporation at a coal mine near the Cardinal River in Alberta. Stewart’s duties included operating a 170-ton truck, a 260-ton truck, a wheel loader, and a plant loader.

Elk Valley’s mining operation had many hazards in the workplace, so it endeavoured to keep its workplace as safety sensitive as possible. This included an “alcohol, drugs and medications policy” that it implemented on May 2, 2005, updating an earlier policy that had been agreed to by the union. The updated policy was implemented under Elk Valley’s management rights in the collective agreement.