Lafarge Canada justified in firing worker who refused drug testing: Court decision

Jul 2, 2024

According to a ruling made by an Alberta court earlier in June, the construction materials company Lafarge Canada was justified in firing an employee who got into a minor vehicle accident at a worksite and subsequently tested positive for THC.

 The incident occurred in June 2022, when the employee, Garry Frederick Quong, worked as a site superintendent and was involved in a minor collision at a worksite; post-incident drug testing revealed that Quong’s THC levels were above Lafarge’s permitted threshold. Although he was offered the opportunity to undergo a substance abuse assessment and participate in a substance abuse program as a condition for his return to work, Quong refused, resulting in his termination by Lafarge later that month.

Quong was employed by Lafarge or a company affiliate for over 40 years, and was the site supervisor at the time of his dismissal.

He filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit and sought damages of 24 months’ pay plus interest and costs over his dismissal. “Mr. Quong asserts that Lafarge’s Drug and Alcohol Policy is unreasonable and that Lafarge failed to honour the terms of his employment contract which included progressive discipline for infractions rather than immediate escalation to termination,” wrote Justice Colin Feasby in his decision.

The court decision also noted that Lafarge’s approach to the positive drug test made it clear Quong would not have been fired if he had not refused to undergo substance use assessment and participate in a substance abuse program, as per the company’s drug and alcohol policy.  

“Faced with an employee who had a positive drug test, Lafarge had no alternative but to insist on compliance with its Drug and Alcohol Policy which I have found to be reasonable,” states the court decision. “Lafarge is required by law to maintain a safe workplace and could not, in the face of a positive drug test, accede to [Quong’s] position that he not be required to participate in the SAP or be subject to random drug testing.”

 In addition, the court also rejected Quong’s arguments that Lafarge failed to consider his length of employment history at the company, his age, job performance, seriousness of the incident, and the amount of harm caused to the company. As part of his lawsuit, he argued that his honesty throughout the process and cooperation with the initial drug test should weigh against termination.

“[His] refusal to undergo a substance abuse assessment as part of the SAP prevented Lafarge from meeting its human rights law obligations,” reads the court decision. “The wilful refusal to abide by a policy critical to ensuring a safe workplace is incompatible with continued employment,” the court said, concluding that his behaviour constituted a repudiation of his employment contract.