An Alberta arbitration board allowed the union's policy
grievance and struck down the employer's random drug and
alcohol testing policy in Unifor, Local 707A v Suncor Energy Inc,
2014 CanLII 23034. The policy was part of an array of measures
adopted by Suncor to ensure the safety of its workforce in an
admittedly hazardous workplace. A majority of the board held that
Suncor had failed to show an existing problem at the worksite and
in the bargaining unit that would justify the intrusive nature of
the random testing. The policy was held to be unreasonable, despite
considerable evidence of drug problems, including fatalities, in
the area. The majority took issue with the inadequacy of drug
testing by urinalysis in demonstrating impairment as opposed to
recent use noted the absence of a proven connection between
positive test results and the safety record at the worksite. A
strong dissent outlines a number of perceived deficiencies in the
majority reasons, including its refusal to consider evidence
related to the 'Non-Represented Employees', i.e. employees
outside of the bargaining unit represented by the union.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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