Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 33

STAFF & MANAGEMENT Use of Medical Marijuana at Work Poses Challenges for Employers: Experts Recent B.C. case illustrates limits for employers By Alexandra Posadzki A This article was originally published in Canadian HRReporter and is reproduced with the permission of the publisher. s medical marijuana gains traction as a treatment option for a host of conditions including chronic pain and other conditions, Canadian employers could find themselves grappling with a sticky issue. "Individuals have the right to equal treatment... without discrimination on the grounds of disability," says Jan Robinson, managing principal at human resources firm Morneau Shepell. "Medical cannabis now needs to be  viewed like every other doctorprescribed drug." But although employers have a duty to accommodate workers' medical conditions, experts say that duty must be balanced with the need to keep the workplace safe. That can be challenging, especially if employees perform duties such as operating machinery. "There's no hard or fast rule to this,'' says Natalie MacDonald, an employment lawyer and the co-founder of Rudner MacDonald. "It's got to be determined on a case-by-case basis - as most things in employment law do." Experts says the duty to accommodate comes with an important caveat - it must not result in undue hardship for the employer. While there is no strict definition of what constitutes undue hardship, MacDonald says the courts will consider a number of factors including how much financial difficulty the company would endure and whether accommodating the employee would compromise workplace safety. "A small organization that has to incur serious financial hardship as a result of trying to accommodate an employee may cross the test of undue hardship," MacDonald said. A recent decision issued by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal illustrates some of the limits that apply to the employer's responsibility to accommodate workers' needs. The Tribunal ruled that B.C.-based Selkin Logging did not violate John French's human rights by refusing to allow the logging contractor to use marijuana while on the job. The company, which has a "zero tolerance" policy on marijuana use, had argued that it did not discriminate against French based on his use of cannabis to handle the symptoms of cancer, but rather was concerned about safety. In addition, French was not authorized by Health Canada to possess medical marijuana, although he claimed he was using the drug to ease cancer-related pain as per his doctors' recommendations, according to court documents. MacDonald says that if French had proper medical documentation, the outcome of the case may have been different. However, safety concerns still need to be taken into account, she adds. One alternative way to accommodate a worker's needs would be to provide the worker with a leave of absence until the medical issue is resolved, MacDonald said. "In some cases, it may be that the employee needs to be provided with alternative forms of work that don't attract any particular safety concerns," MacDonald said. As cannabis becomes a more popular treatment choice - Health Canada has estimated there could be nearly half a million users by 2024 - the issue is likely to start cropping up at workplaces across the country. "We are starting to recognize that this trend will commence very shortly across Canada," said Robinson, noting that Morneau Shepell has been advising its clients to review their existing drug and alcohol policies to ensure they are adequate. "If they don't look at their drug policies now, they may have issues in the future," she said. ■ FACILITY FORUM | 33

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Facility Forum - Fall 2016

Industry Watch
Home Run Baseball Hits a Pedestrian
All Granites are Not the Same
Technically Speaking
Risk Management – City Found Not Liable in Skating Injury
Winterizing Pools
Member Profile – Ross Rankin, RA Centre, Ottawa
Use of Medical Marijuana at Work Poses Challenges for Employers
Health & Safety (PSHSA) – Radon - Bill 11 Updates
ORFA’s Original Energy Consultant Writes Memoirs
The Difference between Residential and Commercial Gas Detectors
Energy Champion – Beyond Measurement
Index of Advertisers
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - ebelly1
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - ebelly2
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - cover1
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - cover2
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 3
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 4
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 5
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 6
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 7
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 8
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Industry Watch
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Home Run Baseball Hits a Pedestrian
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 11
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 12
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 13
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - All Granites are Not the Same
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 15
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 16
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 17
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 18
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 19
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 20
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Technically Speaking
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Risk Management – City Found Not Liable in Skating Injury
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 23
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Winterizing Pools
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 25
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 26
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 27
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 28
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Member Profile – Ross Rankin, RA Centre, Ottawa
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 30
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 31
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 32
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Use of Medical Marijuana at Work Poses Challenges for Employers
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Health & Safety (PSHSA) – Radon - Bill 11 Updates
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 35
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 36
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - ORFA’s Original Energy Consultant Writes Memoirs
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 38
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 39
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 40
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - The Difference between Residential and Commercial Gas Detectors
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 42
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 43
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Energy Champion – Beyond Measurement
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - 45
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - Index of Advertisers
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - cover3
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - cover4
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - outsert1
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - outsert2
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - outsert3
Facility Forum - Fall 2016 - outsert4
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