Substance Abuse in the Workplace When are Human Rights Engaged?

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1 Substance Abuse in the Workplace When are Human Rights Engaged? Presented by: Sharan K. Basran, Manager of Litigation Jessica Page, Articling Student September 30, 2015 Ontario Nurses Association Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 1

2 Introduction Substance abuse or addiction is a disability, a protected ground under the Human Rights Code Substance abuse: An illness or disease creating physical disability or mental impairment and interfering with physical, psychological and social functioning (See para 89 of Entrop v Imperial Oil, [2000] 50 OR (3d) 18 (CA)) Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 2

3 Outline of Presentation 1. Identifying Substance Abuse/Dependency in the Workplace 2. The Threshold When is Substance Use a Disability? 3. Employer Obligations and the Duty to Accommodate Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 3

4 Outline of Presentation 4. Ensuring a Safe Return to Work and Appropriate Accommodation 5. Resources for Members 6. Conclusions and Takeaway 7. Q & A Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 4

5 Identifying Substance Abuse in the Workplace The importance of being attuned to the signs and symptoms of addiction Fear of disclosure Negative attitudes/behaviour Stigma Discrimination Patient care Worker safety Well-being of the member Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 5

6 Signs and Symptoms of Addiction Often substance dependence leads to behaviour that may ordinarily call for disciplinary action Examples: theft of narcotics, allegations of professional misconduct or poor attendance Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 6

7 Signs and Symptoms of Addiction Six signs of substance abuse: 1. Change in work attendance or performance 2. Alteration of personal appearance 3. Mood swings or attitude changes 4. Withdrawal from responsibility 5. Unusual patterns of behaviour 6. Defensive attitude concerning the substance Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 7

8 The Threshold When is Substance Use a Disability? Use vs. Dependence From Entrop, supra, at para 92: The social drinker and casual drug user are not substance abusers and, therefore, not [disabled] Exception: perceived addiction Example: a policy that treats substance users as abusers Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 8

9 Employer Obligations Inappropriate responses: discipline or discharge Appropriate response: sick leave Mandatory report to the College of Nurses or other regulatory body (for our allied health professional members) Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 9

10 The Duty to Accommodate The employer has the duty to accommodate the member s disability to the point of undue hardship: Seven factors, safety usually most important Extends past the member s return to work Duty to Inquire Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 10

11 Ensuring a Safe Return to Work and Appropriate Accommodation The union has a duty to facilitate accommodation Accommodations often affect our members and require colleague support Restrictions imposed by the College of Nurses or other regulatory bodies Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 11

12 Member Refuses to Participate Duty to Cooperate Denial: central feature of addiction Employer s obligations may come to an end Best efforts, good faith Require the affected member to participate in process Refusal may lead to undue hardship Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 12

13 Resources for Members What to do if you suspect substance abuse/addiction: Bargaining Unit Representative or ONA representative LEAP Intake: Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 13

14 Conclusions and Takeaway It is important to be on the lookout for substance abuse among members for the sake of patient safety and member well-being The earlier a disability is realized, the faster it can be accommodated Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 14

15 Conclusions and Takeaway Due to the stigma around addiction and the nature of the illness, affected members may not disclose the need for accommodation The employer is required, by statutory duty, to accommodate affected members to the point of undue hardship The union and member must also engage in this process Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 15

16 Q&A Press *0 for operator assistance in asking questions Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 16

17 Substance Abuse in the Workplace When are Human Rights Engaged? 85 Grenville Street, Suite 400, Toronto, ON M5S 3A (in Toronto) (toll-free) Find us on: Copyright 2013 Ontario Nurses Association Our Union. Respected. Strong. United. 17

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