Union Successfully Challenges Drug & Alcohol Policy on Some Grounds


A union challenged parts of an employer’s drug and alcohol policy for its aluminum smelter operations. The arbitrator ruled that the employer could set rules on drug and alcohol use in the workplace and require immediate drug or alcohol tests where there are reasonable grounds for such tests. But the employer can’t require broad medical evaluations and then discipline workers who refuse them when those evaluations aren’t tied to unauthorized drug or alcohol use. In addition, the “zero tolerance” part of the policy was unreasonable because it called for immediate termination and didn’t include the “just cause” standard for discipline [Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal Kitimat/Kemano Operations BC v. National Automobile, Aerospace Transportation and General Workers of Canada, Local 2301, [2011] CanLII 7211 (BC L.A.), Feb. 6, 2011].