Case Report – Court says random alcohol testing reasonable

On September 20th, the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench quashed a November 2009 alcohol testing award that held Irving Pulp & Paper had insufficient justification to implement random alcohol testing at a pulp mill.

The Court held that the majority of an arbitration board erred by finding that employers who operate “dangerous workplaces” (in which there is a risk of an accident with catastrophic consequences) must demonstrate a history of alcohol-related incidents to justify random alcohol testing. It suggested that if a workplace is dangerous, a program of random alcohol testing by breathalyzer that applies only to safety-sensitive positions is reasonable.

This is a significant judgment that is far more tolerant of random testing for current impairment than Arbitrator Michel Picher’s leading Imperial Oil case from 2007, affirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal as reasonable in May 2009. The Court noted the Imperial Oil decision, but did not make comment on it in its analysis.

Irving Pulp & Paper, Limited v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30, 2010 NBQB 294.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.