Random alcohol testing fails Supreme Court’s test

Top court gives final word on debate over the right to test employees in safety sensitive positions
By Adrian Jakibchuk and Gerald Griffiths
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/29/2013

In a 6-3 decision released in June of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled as unreasonable the mandatory alcohol testing policy adopted by Irving Pulp and Paper for employees in safety sensitive positions.

According to Canada’s top court, a dangerous workplace is not automatic justification for random testing. Additional factors must be present, including, for example:

•Reasonable grounds to believe an employee is impaired while on duty.
•A workplace accident or near miss justifying post-incident testing.
•An employee returning to work after treatment for substance abuse so that the testing protocol is part of a “return-to-work” program.
•Evidence of a workplace problem of alcohol abuse.