Pubdate: Tue, 01 Jan 2008
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Glenn Kauth, Sun Media
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Employer Justified In Firing Worker Over Positive Drug-Test Result

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  wash-out 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, 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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom