Rights Watchdog Bans Workplace Drug Tests

Rights Watchdog Bans Workplace Drug Tests
Posted by CN Staff on July 11, 2002 at 09:45:02 PT
By Heather Scoffield
Source: Globe and Mail 
Ottawa — Federally regulated companies and public services must not randomly test or prescreen employees for drug and alcohol use, the federal human-rights watchdog decided Wednesday.The Canadian Human Rights Commission released a new policy on alcohol and drug testing that says employee drug tests are an abuse of human rights under almost all circumstances. "Positive results of drug tests do not suggest a person is impaired," commission spokeswoman Catherine Barratt said. 
"If you want to test for a safe environment, testing for drugs is not going to get you there."That's because the tests can show traces of drugs weeks after they were actually used, long after the employee in question has sobered up."There is no technology out there at the moment that tests for the impairment of drugs in the body," Ms. Barratt said.Alcohol testing should be allowed only if an employer believes safety is at risk, the policy says."We accept that employees in safety-sensitive positions, where their impairment poses a risk to their own safety, to others, or to the environment may be subjected to random alcohol testing by their employer," acting chief commissioner Anne Adams said.But even if such testing shows that a drunk employee is putting safety at risk, he or she can't be fired for that reason. Rather, the company or federal public service must take steps to rehabilitate the employee and cure the substance-abuse problem, Ms. Barratt said. The employee can be removed temporarily from the job in question, but once rehabilitated must be reinstated, she said.Generally, the new policy will have its largest effect on federally regulated companies and public services that prescreen potential employees before offering them jobs, Ms. Barratt said."There's a strong possibility that a number of them are administering policies that are against the Human Rights Act," she said."What I do outside work hours does not have to have an impact on what I do during work hours. That's a violation of my privacy rights and my human rights."The policy applies to federal government agencies and departments, and federally regulated companies such as banks, insurance firms, airlines, telecommunications businesses and other companies that operate across the country.It is retroactive to June 11, 2002.Some provincial human-rights commissions, which govern provincially regulated workplaces, have also ruled against drug testing as part of an applicant screening process.The Ontario Human Rights Commission, for instance, permits testing only in limited circumstances such as when an employee is in a safety-sensitive position or after significant accidents or near misses. And because drug and alcohol addiction is considered a disability, it is considered discriminatory to refuse to hire someone because of the presence of either substance in their blood.The federal policy is a set of guidelines and does not have the force of law. If employees feel their employer has broken the policy, they can take their complaints to the Human Rights Commission. If the commission agrees with the complaint, it can challenge the employer before a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Either side can then appeal the tribunal's decision in court.Still, the policy sets a standard, not just for federal institutions, but for companies and government services across Canada, Ms. Barratt said.The new policy expands on a previous one. But the older version did not address alcohol testing at all, and it applied more narrowly to the use of drug tests, she added.Under the old policy, companies were prohibited from drug testing of employees who worked in areas that had nothing to do with physical safety, but safety-sensitive areas did not fall under the rule. Now, the policy has been broadened to say employers should no longer be prescreening employees for drugs, nor should they be randomly testing for drugs even in safety-sensitive areas.Any test, for drugs or alcohol, must arise from a reasonable fear that safety is in question, or after an accident has taken place and the suspected cause is substance abuse, Ms. Barratt said.The commission decided to re-examine its policies after a Supreme Court ruling in 1999, and an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling in favour of an Imperial Oil employee. Control board operator Martin Entrop was reassigned after admitting he had earlier had a substance-abuse problem, but had since been rehabilitated.Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Heather Scoffield, From Thursday's Globe and MailPublished: Thursday, July 11, 2002Copyright: 2002 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Article & Web Site:Canadian Human Rights Commission Oil Company Defends Drug Tests Drug Testing Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by geoffb77 on July 21, 2004 at 03:19:52 PT:
workplace drug testing
How can they justify such a statement, surely this would infringe on human rights laws etc. which seems to a topic of such debate in itself.
By the year 2005 it is estimated that up to 80% of all workers will be monitored
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Comment #6 posted by Prime on July 11, 2002 at 23:19:21 PT
5th Amendment...
Dr Z... I always hear the 4th Amendment argument for drug testing. I agree with that route. But I see the 5th Amendment as being the winner with drug testing. The right not to incriminate ourselves. I dont think we have the right to strict medical privacy, or privacy of our DNA, but we should.What worries me is the other information that can be taken during urine tests. Your not on drugs, but you have high blood sugar, or high cholestoral(sp?), thus an insurance risk.Seen Gattica?
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Comment #5 posted by overtoke on July 11, 2002 at 16:50:13 PT:
USA = Backwards
Amazing deal for Canada.I've always felt that If a employer wanted to test me for drugs that would be just fine with me. But if they wanted to fire me - or not hire me - I would sue their asses off.Wake up USA - We are getting the shaft. (How many rights and freedoms have we lost in the past year?)
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on July 11, 2002 at 12:10:55 PT:
Ever had a wet T-Shirt fight? You take a T-Shirt, get it soaking, spread it as if you were about to put it on, then slap someone across the back with stings like a SOB.The antis have just had the human rights equivalent of a wet T-Shirt slap across the face. Hard.The importance of Canada to say that random testing is a human rights abuse cannot be underestimated. Because the tacit implication is that its' neighbor to the South is engaged in precisely that...human rights abuses.Rather embarassing, no? You gotta love it...
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Comment #3 posted by Naaps on July 11, 2002 at 10:13:29 PT
Human Rights Victory!
The real beauty of this ruling is that it nips in the bud any ideas of the immense drug testing industry complete with their cheerleading organizations, such as the Institute for a Drug Free Workplace, coming to setup shop in Canada.Who needs these people? Look at what they proudly declare: THE INSTITUTE FOR A DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE exists because there are serious threats to American employers and employees from drug abuse and its tragic human and economic costs. These threats include: (1) anti-drug testing legislation; (2) legal challenges; (3) regulations which unduly restrict employer programs; (4) misinformation or ignorance about drug testing and employer programs; and (5) legalization campaigns. Of course, to achieve their goals, there’s lobbyists scurrying like sewer rats though the halls of government, pleading their case, offering attractive perks, and donating to campaigns. Like a cancer on true democracy, a vested interest group whispering worm-tongue to elected officials.This decision by the Canadian Human Rights Commission rocks. Anyone tired of being judged by the contents of your urine sample – maybe, you can work in Canada. Come on up. 
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Comment #2 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on July 11, 2002 at 09:58:51 PT
A good day.
Cannabis depenalized in the UK and a report from Canada stating what we've all said since it began.Drug testing is unreasonable search and siezure, and it is a violation of Human rights because the Police (or Company) forces you to produce private bodily functions without reasonable suspicion. It furthers the desire to view potheads as guilty until proven clean.. I mean innocent, by producing the proper urine.Here in the US the Federal Government has difficulty getting around these annoying Constitutional safeguards on its own, but does remarkably well getting private corporations to do it for them under the "drug-free workplace" BS. Private companies can do whatever the hell they want.And speaking thereof, Id like to see how many of the people responsible for capsizing Wall $treet are pot smokers, as well as how many actively funded prohibitionist efforts. The people at Enron, worldcom, Bristol Meyers (!) and so forth have done vastly more damage and wroght more havoc than all the superpowerful Canadian bud..and Mark emery with a bullhorn... could ever do.Perhaps the UK and Canada will lean on John Walters and the rest of the Shrubular Posse and coerce them for a change.
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on July 11, 2002 at 09:50:37 PT
Wonder if Enron and Worlcom helped here?
Right now the chief danger to the economic health of North American capitalism is corporate lying and looting by drug-tested top executives, not a few possible extra sick days a year by their partyhound employees.
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