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Drugs in the Workplace – Special Report

Drug and alcohol testing has become one of the most contentious contemporary issues in Canadian labour and employment law. Everyone understands that the use of alcohol and certain drugs can impair an individual’s ability to work safely and, depending on the workplace, lead to serious injury, property damage and associated liabilities. Rapid and significant changes to the legal status of marijuana have also led to broader concerns about impairment at work. Testing for drug and alcohol use in the workplace may reduce risks in some circumstances, but often raises concerns regarding privacy, unlawful discrimination and the reasonable exercise of management rights.

An employer’s right to test and discipline employees for workplace drug and alcohol use or impairment
comes down to a balancing of competing interests:

The employer’s interest, nay imperative, in maintaining a safe workplace; and
The employees’ right to privacy and, where the employee has a dependency or addiction,

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