Life and Family

Doing Your Job

Can a carrier require me to undergo a medical examination, including a drug and alcohol test, prior to hiring me?

The quick answer is YES. But like everything else in life, it's not quite that simple.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it's a legal obligation of the employer to provide a safe working environment for all of his/her employees, as well as to protect the safety of the general public from endangerment by his/her workers. It follows, therefore, that the primary rational for requiring a medical examination is to promote safety in the workplace, and the requirement is particularly applicable to positions which are classified as "safety sensitive positions."

The Federal Government has never introduces a statute that specifically addresses the issue of a mandatory medical examination for prospective employees. Canadian transportation companies wishing to conduct business in the U.S. are compelled by U.S. law to under to undergo pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing.

The employer has taken the position that a potential employee has a "duty to accommodate," especially when meeting certain minimum requirements is a reasonable and bona fide occupational requirement.

The positive part to all of this, is that the Human Rights Commission has formulated a policy on employment-related medical examinations. The policy states that medical examinations are permitted only AFTER a "conditional offer of employment" has been made by the employer to the prospective employee.

Look on the positive side if you pass the medical, you've got the job.

Jim Park