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June 2017 Archives

SCC DENIES HUMAN RIGHTS DISCRIMINATION CLAIM BY ADDICT

In the Recent case of Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp. the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal was entitled to dismiss a discrimination claim based on drug addiction. Mr. Stewart had been fired from his job for violating the company's zero-tolerance drug policy. He argued that he was being discriminated against because he was a cocaine addict. Although addiction is a recognized disability under Alberta human rights legislation, Stewart was fired because he tested positive for cocaine after an accident in the mine. The SCC majority cited safety as being the paramount consideration and that Stewart was rightfully terminated because his drug use at work created a safety hazard, not because he was an addict. In dissent Justice Gascon argued that a drug policy that automatically terminates employees who use drugs, prima facie discriminates against individuals burdened by drug dependence.

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