Pubdate: Wed, 02 Jan 2008
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Glenn Kauth, Sun Media
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


No Human Rights Protection In Workplace Firing, Judges Say

Alberta's top court has dealt a blow to the province's pot smokers 
with a ruling upholding workplace drug-testing policies that were at risk.

In a new decision from the Alberta Court of Appeal, a trio of judges 
overturned a controversial ruling from Justice Sheilah Martin that 
drew scorn from 2006 Tory leadership candidate Ted Morton.

In that case, Martin ruled that a Fort McMurray employer 
discriminated against a worker named John Chiasson by firing him over 
a positive drug-test result.

The case turned on the question of whether Chiasson's use of 
marijuana in 2002 qualified him as disabled and whether, as a result, 
his employer had a duty to accommodate his condition.

While Chiasson himself admitted he was only a casual user of the 
drug, Martin accepted that in firing everyone who tests positive for 
drugs, engineering and construction company Kellog, Brown and Root 
(KBR) had essentially treated him as though he were an addict and 
therefore disabled.

As a result, the company had a duty to be more flexible in its 
testing policies by, for example, allowing for a washout period that 
would let recreational drug users get the drug out of their blood, 
Martin ruled. The theory was that occasional smokers don't 
necessarily pose a safety risk at work.

The Court of Appeal judges, however, have ruled otherwise.

"Extending human rights protections to situations resulting in 
placing the lives of others at risk flies in the face of logic," they 
wrote, noting that despite Chiasson's insistence that his drug use 
was his business, the effects of marijuana can linger for days.

Morton, now sustainable resources minister, called the previous 
decision a bad, judge-made law.

"It puts the rights of some guy to smoke pot above the safety of his 
fellow workers," he told Sun Media at the time of Martin's ruling.

"It is bad law because it creates new rules that cannot be found in 
the Alberta Human Rights Code.

"Drug use, much less illegal drug use, is not even listed as a 
'disability' in the act. Nor was it ever intended to be."
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