Labour & Employment Law Blog

Cannabis at Work and the Human Rights Code

Cannabis at Work and the Human Rights Code

Zeilikman Law is getting many questions from both employers and employees about cannabis use and the implications under Ontario’s Human Rights Code (“Code”).

One of the first questions many have is whether an employee can use cannabis indoors while at work.  The short answer is that they cannot.  The legislation in Ontario prohibits cannabis use in enclosed workplaces (similar to cigarette smoking or vaping) but allows cannabis use in public outdoor spaces.  Therefore, an employee may smoke cannabis in non-enclosed areas of the workplace, such as outdoor spaces.  However, the employer may still set out certain policies related to cannabis use outdoors if those outdoor spaces are the private property of the employer.

Another common question is what happens if cannabis use causes the employee to be impaired while at work.  The answer here is that employers should treat impairment caused by cannabis use the same way that they would treat an impairment caused by alcohol or other drugs.  Further, the employer may be able ban cannabis use at work if it would interfere with the health and safety of others at the workplace or the public.  For instance, a company policy on cannabis use could be different for employees who use heavy machinery on construction sites vs employees who have traditional office-type jobs.

What about the duty to accommodate?  It is important to note here that the duty to accommodate only applies to cannabis use for medical purposes, not to recreational cannabis use.  The Code protects employees who use medical cannabis from discriminatory treatments, similar to other medical drug use, in their employment.  The Code will also protect employees who may have an addiction to cannabis use on the ground of disability to the point of undue hardship.

Should employers incorporate cannabis use in their company polices?  Employers are free to include provisions or guidelines in their company policies related to cannabis use and should do so especially if the nature of work would require strict rules on cannabis use.  As such, employers should be clear in their policies about what they expect from their employees related to cannabis use.  However, a caveat here is that employers should be wary of additions to policies that would include certain disclosure obligations as these obligations may conflict with the Code. Further, the policy must not infringe upon the employer’s potential obligation to accommodate disability-related cannabis use to the point of undue hardship.  It is best that the employer seek out the assistance of an employment lawyer in order to make sure that any company policy that they may have related to cannabis use is compliant with the Code.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.