Random Workplace Drug Testing Struck Down By Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ottawa, Ontario:  Random and pre-employment drug testing of public employees is a human rights violation and not allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the federal Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) announced this week.  Their decision strikes down suspicionless drug testing policies for federally regulated workers, such as bank employees and airline pilots.

“Positive drug tests simply confirm an individual’s previous exposure to drugs, not whether the person is capable of performing the essential requirements of their job,” the CHRC stated in a press release.  The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based upon disability or perceived disability, and drug and alcohol dependency are considered disabilities under the law.

Policies that result in an employee’s automatic loss of employment, reassignment, or that impose “impose inflexible reinstatement conditions without regard for personal circumstances” are also likely in violation of the law, the Commission found.

Post-accident testing, workplace drug testing for “reasonable” cause, and random alcohol testing for safety-sensitive employees are generally acceptable under the law, the Commission said.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.  The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s report is available online at: http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/news-comm/2002/NewsComm071002.asp?l=e .