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Can an employer in Alberta force workers to take drug tests?

Expert: Soma Ray-Ellis

Bruce asked:

The company I work for in Alberta is adopting random drug tests. I work in an office and feel there is no need to include office staff. Can a company force its employees to take one? What rights do I have besides quitting? Do they have a right to fire me for refusing to take one?

Soma Ray-Ellis answered:

In Alberta, the Commission's position is that it does not have jurisdiction to tell an employer when or whether they can require a drug or alcohol test. Several decisions have found that they might not be justified in the circumstance.

However, it is not the testing that triggers protection of human rights law but rather the treatment of the employees who are drug or alcohol dependent; in other words those who suffer from a disability.

About the author

Soma Ray-Ellis is Partner and co-chair of the Employment and Labour Group at Himelfarb Proszanski LLP. Soma has published numerous texts including Federal Equity Manual and most recently, authored the Discrimination and Human Rights volume for Halsbury’s Laws of Canada. She has participated in many high profile litigation matters, most recently as lead counsel to Air India at the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182.

Soma Ray-Ellis can be reached at (416) 599-9708 or

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