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| Public Sector
June 5 2015

A Sniff Too Far? Arbitrator Rules Employer Cannot Conduct Random Drug Searches Using Drug Sniffing Dogs

"An arbitrator determined whether Agrium Vanscoy Potash Operations could require employees to submit to a search from a drug sniffing dog before they could enter the potash mine. The United Steelworkers Local 7552 grieved against this policy, alleging that requiring all employees to submit to the random search|interview process was ""an unjustifiable violation of employees ' fundamental right of 'privacy '."" The arbitrator concluded that a sniff by a drug sniffing dog is a search that could interfere with an employee 's informational privacy and that Agrium did not have reasonable grounds to invade the informational privacy of its employees through the drug sniff|interview process. The arbitrator 's decision is consistent with prior jurisprudence and the case law which places a very high evidentiary bar on employee drug testing. Employers will need specific evidence of a substance abuse problem before they can require employees to submit to drug searches or testing, even minimally invasive searches by drug sniffing dogs."