Life and Family

Doing Your Job

Can a carrier which you have worked for 10 years, as a Canada-only driver make it a condition of employment to take a drug and alcohol test when you do not drive in the U.S.?

This is a difficult question to answer especially when there are many factors that could affect the answer that have not been addressed in the question.

An excerpt from the 1996 Canadian Human Rights Commission Annual Report Summary states: "Federal Court decisions on two drug testing cases make it clear that generalized testing may be considered discriminatory unless there is a demonstrable connection between the policy and the jobs performed. Employers cannot justify random testing on the mere supposition that anyone who tests positive is a security risk, or otherwise incapable of doing the job.

"That truckers not be impaired on the job is a reasonable requirement, but it is quite a jump from there to the conclusion that random, across-the-board drug testing of drivers is the best way to satisfy that requirement."

So much for the Canadian position on random drug testing. Drivers traveling to the U.S. must comply with the American Drug and Alcohol Testing requirements, and U.S. law permits such testing. Accordingly, any Canadian driver wishing to haul into the U.S. willingly agrees to submit to such testing. Of course, the consequences of refusing to be tested are simply that the driver is not allowed to work in the United States.

As for a mid-stream change of operational requirements for the Canada-only driver, if his employer insists that he run into the U.S., he is entitled to refuse, and the employer is required to make some kind of accommodation in that employee's case. The extent to which that employer is able to accommodate the employee may be dictated by the new operational realities.

If the carrier only runs international freight, the employee may have little re-course, other than to find another job.

The requirements for driver operating in the U.S. are quite clear, and Canadian carriers are well within their rights to require those drivers to be tested. What remains somewhat unclear is whether a carrier can split the fleet into two camps, Canadian only and Canada/U.S. Should the Canada-only driver be considered part of the random testing pool of drivers? Can the carrier be expected to alter its operational structure to accommodate a driver who doesn't run into the U.S.? These are the big questions, of course, and we are certainly in no position to pass judgement on a question as delicate as this one.

Best to call the Canadian Human Rights Commission. They probably won't have a definitive answer either. Good Luck. (416) 973-5527

Jim Park