Many employers face the complex challenge of an employee with a substance abuse problem. Drug abuse or alcohol abuse-related issues raise human rights and common law liability concerns for employees. The case of Whitford v. Agrium Inc. provides an example of an employer’s apparent good intentions that eventually led to the wrongful dismissal of an employee. The case also provides useful insights and strategies for employers in managing and, if necessary, terminating the employment of an employee with a substance abuse problem:
- Be aware of your obligations and rights pursuant to the applicable human rights legislation.
- Provide accommodation to the employee as required.
- Provide a unified and coordinated approach in managing and addressing the workplace issues.
- Regularly meet with the employee to monitor the situation.
- Clearly articulate expectations.
- Provide clear and effective warnings.
- Assess and ensure the safety of others.