Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jan 2008
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Glenn Kauth, Sun Media
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


A court ruling against a fired marijuana user won't stop the 
province's human rights commission seeking changes to workplace 
drug-testing policies, a lawyer on the case said yesterday.

"I think automatic termination is troubling because you're denying 
someone employment," said Arman Chak, an Alberta Human Rights and 
Citizenship Commission lawyer who represented the fired worker, John 
Chiasson, during a recent court case.

Chak noted the commission hasn't yet decided on whether to challenge 
a ruling from the Alberta Court of Appeal rejecting Chiasson's claims 
that a Fort McMurray employer's drug-testing policies were 
discriminatory. While Chiasson himself admitted he was only a 
recreational pot smoker, a lower-court judge had earlier ruled that 
in firing anyone who tested positive for drugs, engineering and 
construction company Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) had essentially 
treated him as an addict and therefore disabled.

Alberta's human-rights legislation forbids discrimination on the 
basis of disability. The appeal judges, however, have now ruled that 
safety concerns justify workplace drug-testing policies, thereby 
overturning the earlier court decision.

For Chak, the debate isn't over. "Is that the best way to deal with 
him? I think that's a level of disrespect that we don't expect in 
Alberta," he said of Chiasson's firing.

Chak pointed to evidence that a urine test showing the presence of 
marijuana doesn't necessarily mean a person is impaired. He noted 
that in Chiasson's case, the worker had started his job as a 
receiving clerk at a Syncrude Canada construction site by the time 
the test results came back. By then, it had been weeks since he had 
smoked the pot.

"Those metabolites in the blood system do not prove impairment on the 
job," said Bob Cyre of Edmonton's Mobile Access Compassionate 
Resources Organization Society, which assists people who use 
marijuana for medical purposes.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom