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Can an employer make me take a drug or alcohol test?

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Can an employer make me take a drug or alcohol test?
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Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
Workers' Action Centre
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)

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Can an employer make me take a drug or alcohol test?
This question has an answer and 3 steps
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Reviewed: 
September 30, 2015
Answer

Usually, the answer is no.

Ontario's human rights laws make it difficult for employers to force workers to get tested to show if they used drugs or alcohol at work or before coming to work.

An employer is not supposed to test workers just to find out if they've used drugs or alcohol. There has to be a connection between the testing and making sure that people are doing their jobs properly and safely.

Even if the type of work might be dangerous, this isn't a good enough reason. For example, employers can't force workers to do a drug or alcohol test only because they use machinery or equipment that can cause injuries.

It would be very unusual for an employer to have a good enough reason to make you take a drug or alcohol test when you apply for a job.

When your employer might be able to ask for tests

If there have been a lot of problems caused by workers using drugs or alcohol at work, the employer might be able to say workers must get tested. This is very unusual.

Other reasons that your employer might be allowed to test you:

  • they have what the law calls "reasonable cause" to believe you have come to work impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • you've been involved in a workplace accident
  • you're returning to your job after getting treated for abusing drugs or alcohol

But your employer still has to show that there's a connection between the testing and you being able to do your job properly and safely.

If you've had problems with drugs or alcohol

Human rights laws say that an employer is not allowed to discriminate against you because of a disability. This means that an employer can't discriminate against you because:

  • you have now or used to have an addiction or dependence on drugs or alcohol
  • they think you have an addiction or dependence on drugs or alcohol

If an employer asks you to take a drug or alcohol test, they might be discriminating against you because of a disability. If this applies to you, see Step 2 below.

If an employer fires you or takes other steps against you because of the results of a drug or alcohol test, this might also go against your human rights. To find out more about making a human rights claim, see Step 3 below.

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