Taking the 'high' road in Alberta (Legal View)

Court of Appeal clarifies enforcement of workplace drug and alcohol policies
By Stephen Shore and Iouri Vorobiev
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/16/2016

There is no doubt about it. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a recognized disability and an employer has a duty to accommodate an employee who has such a disability. 

This raises complex issues for an employer that has found an employee impaired or using drugs or alcohol in a way that negatively impacts the workplace. A common issue faced by an employer is an employee who claims the protection of an addiction-based disability only after discipline (or termination) is meted out for breach of a drug and alcohol policy. 

This issue was addressed in a recent decision of the Court of Appeal for Alberta, Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp. In this case, the court upheld the termination of a drug-dependent employee for a breach of a drug and alcohol policy.