Hello, I work in the unionized processing food plant. In our drug and alcohol policy, the employer has the right to request a drug testing if reasonable grounds to believe that an employee is working under the influence. Following the drug testing, if the result is positive, a substance abuse expert will assess the worker in order to identify if he is a recreational or a dependent user. In a case of a recreational user, discipline will be applied. Can we set a minimum of 3-days of suspension for the first offense and maybe more, depending on the aggravating factors? How do you handle recreational users in terms of disciplinary approaches in your facility? Thank you!
First, for the benefit of other users, I want to expressly spell out the crucial legal point on which your Q is based:
ADDICTION to drugs or alcohol IS a disability requiring accommodations to the point of undue hardship under human rights laws.
CASUAL or RECREATIONAL use is NOT a disability requiring accommodations.
RESULT: You’re free to negotiate whatever penalties you want for positive tests determined to be the result of recreational use–minimum 3 days, etc., without accounting for accommodations.
Of course, the standard rules for discipline will still apply–penalties must be fair, proportional, transparent, consistent and meted out after appropriate investigation. But accommodations don’t enter into the equation if the use is recreational.
As for your second Q, I work for a small, non-union organization so our model probably isn’t all that relevant to your situation. But what I can tell you is that your approach of investigating positive tests to determine whether the employee is an addict or casual user is not only widely followed in union settings but mandatory for all settings.
The scale of penalties will depend on a bunch of factors including the type of workplace you have, whether affected employees are safety-sensitive and, of course, your bargaining leverage vis-à-vis the union.
Hope that helps.
Glenn Demby, 203 354-4532
Hi, Your comment’ …’approach of investigating positive tests to determine whether the employee is an addict or casual user is not only widely followed in union settings but mandatory for all settings’ is something I require a little bit more information on. Can you tell me were to find the requirements for the use of a Substance Abuse Expert in the testing process and whether or not it applies to both workers who properly disclose an addiction and workers who do not?