The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is appearing before the Supreme Court today to argue that employers should have to justify why privacy-invasive workplace policies are a reasonable intrusion into workers’ private lives. In CCLA’s view, employers have no right to access their employees’ bodily substances and medical information, or to monitor what they do in their private lives outside of the workplace where it has no effect on their job performance. Where an employer seeks to impose an intrusive, privacy-invasive policy on employees, the employer should be required to demonstrate that the policy is reasonable and necessary to secure workplace safety. This should include an examination of whether the policy is necessary to achieve an important safety goal, will actually be effective in increasing safety, is minimally intrusive into employees’ privacy, and is a proportionate response to the underlying problem.
In the case being heard today, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper, the employer tried to unilaterally impose a random alcohol testing program on the employees. The union challenged the policy, and the arbitrator found that the policy was unreasonable, due in part to the finding that the employer had not brought persuasive evidence that there were significant alcohol-related safety concerns at the workplace. The Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal both found that the arbitrator’s decision was unreasonable.
To read CCLA’s factum click here.