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February 4 2016

Substance Use And The Workplace: More Considerations For Employer Accommodation Strategies

The protections afforded by human rights legislation to employees with substance dependency issues creates a unique challenge for employers that must balance employee rights with workplace safety issues, and both courts and administrative bodies continue to wrestle with new issues in this area.

The Alberta Court of Appeal released its decision in Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corporation. Stewart has widely been considered good news for employers, particularly those who rely on policies that require employee disclosure of drug use and dependency problems.

In Stewart, the Court upheld a finding that an employer had not discriminated against an employee who had a cocaine dependency. A decision like this emphasizes the importance of ensuring that substance use policies provide clear and appropriate steps to accommodate those with various types of substance use issues.