SCOC Rejects Random Alcohol
Testing in Workplaces
Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
The October 2013 issue of the HR Professional
Magazine (hrpromag.com) has a cover article
reporting on the recent Supreme ...
The article cites the case of Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp and
Paper L...
Irving operates a paper mill in St. John, New Brunswick. At
issue is the fact that in 2006 the company adopted a random
te...
At arbitration, the Board agreed with the Union that the Policy
infringed on the privacy of the employees and there were o...
Why does the SCOC ruling have major impact?
Clayton Jones reports, in the article “How Far
Reaching will the Irving Pulp a...
In the Suncor case, the employer was able to
demonstrate that there is a problem with alcohol and
accidents in their workp...
The Teck (Coal) case has also not yet been completely resolved.
The BC Steelworker’s Union asked an Arbitrator for an
inju...
The SCOC decision has resulted in workplaces
needing to demonstrate that there is a greatly
increased safety risk in the w...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

SCOC Rejects Workplace Alcohol Testing

177 views
135 views

Published on

Recent ruling from the Supreme Court regarding alcohol testing in dangerous workplaces.

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
177
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

SCOC Rejects Workplace Alcohol Testing

  1. 1. SCOC Rejects Random Alcohol Testing in Workplaces Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  2. 2. The October 2013 issue of the HR Professional Magazine (hrpromag.com) has a cover article reporting on the recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) ruling against Random Alcohol Testing policies in dangerous workplaces. The article is written by Kyla Stott-Jess and Katie Clayton, and these authors raise some valid concerns about the wide-reaching effect this ruling may have. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  3. 3. The article cites the case of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd, in which the Supreme Court considered the validity of random alcohol testing in workplaces. The SCOC recognized that while random testing may be imposed where it is “a proportionate response” to safety and privacy, six of the nine judges ruling on this case agreed with the original arbitration board that there was insufficient evidence of an alcohol-related problem at this workplace. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  4. 4. Irving operates a paper mill in St. John, New Brunswick. At issue is the fact that in 2006 the company adopted a random testing policy for employees in “safety sensitive positions”. The policy allowed for 10% of the employees to be randomly tested by breathalyser over the course of a year. Positive tests meant harsh discipline from the employer, while failure to participate/refusal of testing would be grounds for dismissal. The policy was challenged by the Union due to breach of privacy concerns and a lack of alcohol-related incidents at the workplace. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  5. 5. At arbitration, the Board agreed with the Union that the Policy infringed on the privacy of the employees and there were only eight documented cases of alcohol in the workplace over 15 years, none of which lead to injury or accident, which meant that the risk was low. The Arbitration Board ruled that testing “involves bodily intrusion and public embarrassment” and, in the Board’s opinion, “the gains likely to result to Irving from the random testing were minimal at best, making the infringement on employee privacy out of proportion to any benefit”. Irving appealed, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  6. 6. Why does the SCOC ruling have major impact? Clayton Jones reports, in the article “How Far Reaching will the Irving Pulp and Paper Decision Be?” which is embedded in the original article, on two other similar cases in Canada currently subject to Arbitration hearings. These cases are brought by Suncor Energy in Alberta and Teck (Coal) in BC. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  7. 7. In the Suncor case, the employer was able to demonstrate that there is a problem with alcohol and accidents in their workplace. The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled, however, that even though three of seven fatalities since 2000 were alcohol-related, and six percent of the tested workers had positive results, there was not sufficient merit to the employer’s case to allow the testing to continue. This grievance hearing began in January 2013 and is ongoing. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  8. 8. The Teck (Coal) case has also not yet been completely resolved. The BC Steelworker’s Union asked an Arbitrator for an injunction in May 2013 to stop newly imposed random testing, which was denied. The Arbitrator ruled that although this dispute caused “irreparable harm” to the Union/Employer relationship, the Employer’s interest in safety was the deciding factor. Teck submitted that in the previous five years, over 50 post-incident tests were conducted with positive results for drug use. The union is arguing that this is “low in the context of the number of post-incident tests overall”. The hearing into the merits of the grievance has yet to be heard. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013
  9. 9. The SCOC decision has resulted in workplaces needing to demonstrate that there is a greatly increased safety risk in the workplace such as evidence of a drug or alcohol problem before implementing a policy of random testing. Although there is no clear-cut “level” of evidence needed, the Irving and Suncor cases imply that the benchmark is quite high, and may be very difficult to overcome. Kathryn Kissinger HR Services 2013

×