Some time ago (2017), an employee brought a bag of what was presumed to be cocaine to their private sector workplace located in Alberta, Canada. The employer demanded the employee hand the item over (no threats were made, the employee was simply told to hand it over and did as requested), started internal investigations, and reported the incident (and handed over the confiscated property) to the police.

Was the employer legally allowed to confiscate the employee's property?

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    It probably depends on what "confiscate" and "demand" mean. Asking politely? Asking impolitely? "Hand it over or you're fired?" Threats of physical force? Actual physical force? Mar 3, 2018 at 2:08
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    @NateEldredge I've clarified "demand", but I'm not sure how I could clarify "confiscate". Is the current revision more satisfactory?
    – user15867
    Mar 3, 2018 at 2:18
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    Can an employer? Obviously yes, because he did. Is it legal? I don't know, but my best guess is without threats, probably.
    – A.fm.
    Mar 3, 2018 at 5:29
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    1. Where in Canada did it occur? 2. When did this occur (e.g. year) 3. What type of business was this (e.g. government, private sector, etc.)? Without proper context it’s unlikely to get a proper response so the onus is on you to provide the details necessary to get an accurate answer.
    – user15669
    Mar 3, 2018 at 9:58
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    @TonySnow I've edited the post to address your critique. Please let me know if further information is necessary. Thank you for your input.
    – user15867
    Mar 3, 2018 at 22:54

1 Answer 1


As an employee, you mustn't cause damage to the company. As an employer, you don't allow your employees to cause damage to the company. If the employee tries to bring something in that would cause damage, then the company can take appropriate measures to prevent the damage.

"Confiscate" meaning "keeping hold of it and returning it when the employee leaves" would most likely be Ok. Calling the police when something is a strong indication of a crime would be Ok. If the chef in a halal restaurant brings in bacon sandwiches for his lunch, I suppose they would be confiscated (because it would be damaging to the business if customers found out) - as an example of something that is entirely legal but damaging in this particular situation.

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    Can you provide references to statutory code or case precedent please?
    – user15669
    Mar 3, 2018 at 15:14

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