Another nail in random testing coffin (Editor’s Notes)

Supreme Court of Canada leaves door open, but Irving case moves bar higher – and also proves random tests not necessary in most cases
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/14/2013

The murky realm of drug and alcohol testing didn’t become much clearer when the Supreme Court of Canada denied Irving Pulp & Paper’s wish to randomly test 10 per cent of workers for alcohol use. (See “Bar raised in random drug, alcohol testing.”)

There was no black-and-white answer from the top court in last month’s ruling, no easy blueprint for employers to follow. But it did not slam the door entirely on random tests. Instead, the bar shifted — slightly upwards, by all accounts — when it comes to what will justify such a practice.

We know Irving had eight incidents related to alcohol in a 15-year period, which doesn’t sound like a lot. And we know Irving ran its random testing program for 22 months and not one employee tested positive.