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Employment & Labour

Random drug testing could lead to discrimination

A recent decision that paves the way for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to begin randomly testing its workers for drug and alcohol use later this month is problematic on multiple levels, and could lead to discrimination against employees, Toronto labour, employment, and human rights lawyer Christopher Achkar tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

As the article notes, in Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 v. Toronto Transit Commission 2017 ONSC 2078, Ontario Superior Court Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco dismissed an application from the transit workers’ union for an injunction against an amendment to its “Fitness for Duty Policy” during arbitration.

The policy implements drug and alcohol testing of employees in safety-sensitive, management and executive positions, says The Lawyer’s Daily.

According to the ruling, this testing will deter people prone to using drugs or alcohol around their hours of work, which will increase public safety, the article reports.

However, as Achkar, founder of Achkar Law, explains: “What is really concerning about all this is the fact that a lot of employees have to use some type of drug if they have an injury of some sort.”

Achkar says some individuals become dependent on prescription drugs after an accident or injury, which can lead to unfair treatment in the workplace.

“You would be discriminating technically against two levels of a person — the fact that they’re injured, so if someone says they’re injured and that’s why they’re taking this medication, but also if they’re actually dependent on that medication,” says Achkar.

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