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Integrated Accessibility Regulation

Top 10 employment law developments in 2017

In 2017, the provincial legislature and Ontario judges continued to change Ontario’s employment laws. These changes resulted in higher payroll costs and a more regulated workplace. This blog briefly identifies 10 employment law developments from the past year.

 

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2017 AODA reporting deadline

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) requires organizations that have one or more employees in Ontario to comply with standards. These standards require organizations to establish policies and procedures to assist people with disabilities in five areas.

 

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AODA update and compliance in the digital space

Accessibility on the web isn’t something that necessarily comes to mind when we think about providing accessible services, but as our lives migrate more and more into the virtual space, making digital content accessible is a crucial part of building an inclusive society. The AODA drafters did not overlook this, and AODA does apply to digital content.

 

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The AODA Employment Standards: Are you meeting the new requirements?

We know that the AODA employment standards requirements are demanding because we have heard about the challenges from those organizations with 50+ employees that were obligated to comply in January 2016. Smaller employers with fewer resources may need additional assistance to keep track of the project, including reviewing, updating and implementing many HR forms and documents such as job offers, employment contracts, job postings and applications to ensure they are consistent with the new accessibility standards.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: legislative amendments that expanded the access to Employment Insurance benefits; a case where a former employee was awarded six months’ compensation in lieu of notice after she had declined a severance package offered to her by the employer; further recent updates regarding the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

 

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Mandatory work experience programs for all Ontario students

On Thursday June 23, 2016, the Ontario government announced that they are considering mandatory work experience programs for all high school, college and university students.

 

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To defer or not to defer a human rights application: What are the relevant questions?

Where the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario finds there is a separate proceeding that may involve similar facts, the Tribunal has discretion to defer consideration of an application until the proceeding has been completed. Such was the question, whether or not to defer the application in the recent interim order in West v.Yogen Fruz Canada Inc.

 

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Ontario Court of Appeal upholds decision to reinstate disabled employee with 10 years back pay: Will human rights litigation ever be the same again?

I predict a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision will have a significant impact on human rights litigation. In particular, I suspect disabled employees will start asking employers to find or create alternative positions for them if they cannot perform their job duties because of a disability, and terminated employees will start asking adjudicators to reinstate them with full back pay.

 

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Toronto v. Cannabis

Dispensaries are currently undergoing a series of raids as TPF personnel are cracking down on store fronts and businesses that are working outside the law. The surge in organizations selling cannabis and cannabis products might well be egged on by the looming eventuality that cannabis will either become decriminalized or legalized in the near future.

 

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Allergies in the workplace

Many people across the world face allergies that have an effect on every aspect of their lives, including the workplace. These allergies can impose difficulties on either being in a workplace or performing certain tasks in their job. One thing for employers to note is that if the allergy is severe enough, it would probably be considered a disability and must be accommodated appropriately.

 

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It takes two to tango: Superior Court rules on employees’ duty to facilitate in the accommodation process

Employers have a duty to accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship, including facilitating the return to work of employees who require disability-related accommodation. An important aspect of this duty is procedural, i.e. the steps taken to search for a reasonable accommodation. Even if an employer ultimately cannot accommodate without undue hardship, failure to engage in the procedural aspect of the duty to accommodate is a violation of the Human Rights Code.

 

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Accommodating disabled employees: Can an employee demand to work at a different workplace?

In a recent case, an adjudicator concluded that an employer failed to accommodate an employee on long-term disability who requested that she be permitted to work in a different work location than a co-worker for mental health reasons.

 

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Accessibility is a human rights issue

Accessibility is a human rights issue. When we look at how it is enacted through the Ontario Human Rights Commission, their online trainings, and their policy papers, we can plainly see that this is the case.

 

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Hegemony and disability, a further social critique

Hegemony in the context of disability works on a level where systems are negotiated by society’s institutions. The ability of an institution to accommodate new demands in terms of accessibility is an example of the institution’s flexibility. However, there are institutions that are so ingrained in history and social context that they prove to be almost unmovable (Omi & Winant, 1980). This is how disability and hegemony interact at the simplest level, but on another level there is a grid of interlocking systems that cater to the category of disability, as well as perpetuate discrimination in its current form. These systems of societal input inform and naturalize dialogues of discrimination.

 

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Changes in the Criminal Code: Employee rights in a time of legal chaos

In 2016, employees may be faced with requests from employers or from others whom the employees serve to participate in activities that are prohibited by the Criminal Code. There are two areas, in particular, of potential legal conflict in the workplace:

 

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