Supreme Court Hears Random Workplace Alcohol Tests Case

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to hear an appeal on Friday by the union of New Brunswick mill workers who are in conflict with the employers over mandatory and random alcohol tests to be breaching their right to privacy.

The general counsel and Executive Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Nathalie Des Rosiers, is acting as an intervener in the case. Des Rosiers alleged that Supreme Court’s ultimate decision is going to form a potential rule to all models of random alcohol tests at workplaces, so all major employers and unions across the country are watching this case much closely. Des Rosiers stated that “we are concerned that this is a new trend in Canada where you have more and more employers who are imposing quite invasive tests and employees have no choice but to comply because their job is at stake. And it’s not always clear that those tests are necessary.”

A partner at Supreme Advocacy LLP in Ottawa and a former executive legal officer at the Supreme Court, Eugene Meehan, asserted that this is an important case and will ultimately end up at the verge of balancing between workplace safety, i.e. the right of the employers to know everyone is in safe hands, and the personal privacy, i.e. the right of the employees to be free of all unnecessary random breath tests. Meehan alleged that “where is the balance? Is the balance a matter of juridical principle, that is, one size fits all? Or is the solution tailor-made to the job?”

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