Random Alcohol And Drug Testing Halted At Suncor Oilsands Plant

On November 28, 2012, Alberta’s Court of Appeal upheld an injunction halting implementation of Suncor Energy Inc.’s (Suncor) new random alcohol and drug testing program (Program) until an arbitration board renders a decision on a grievance of the program.The legality of mandatory random alcohol and drug testing remains a controversial issue for employers operating in the Alberta oilsands and Suncor appears to be at the forefront of such testing. Suncor’s ability to defend its new Program in the face of a grievance on behalf of the Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union, will have a major influence on whether such testing will be introduced (perhaps growing as a standard across the industry) or will be prevented from continuing. The Union filed a grievance objecting to Suncor’s Program on the basis that it is contrary to the collective agreement, common law, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Alberta Human Rights Act. In coming to its decision, the court addressed jurisprudence on alcohol and drug testing, and recognized that the testing of employees constitutes a significant infringement of their personal privacy, dignity and bodily integrity.

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