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Discrimination prevention strategies

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What can employers do in their workplace to prevent discrimination against employees who have disabilities?

As can be seen from my post on the definition of disability, the ground of “disability” is broadly defined in the law and includes numerous physical and mental impairments.

Discrimination typically occurs because of a lack of understanding regarding a disability. This, in turn, influences actions and decision-making abilities with regard to employment, such as hiring, promoting, terminating, etc. It also affects how employees treat co-workers who have disabilities.

To prevent discrimination, the key is to try and understand an employee’s impairment. People are less likely to discriminate based on wrong assumptions and stereotypes if there is understanding or an attempt at understanding between the employer and employee. Incidentally, this also helps the employer to prepare for accommodating the employee.

In addition, when employers make their workplaces as accessible and inclusive as possible, this benefits all employees, including those who suffer from a disability.

Other tips for employers who wish to prevent discrimination based on disability in the workplace include:

  • Refrain from creating workplace policies, procedures or work events that operate to exclude or disadvantage persons who suffer from a particular disability
  • Provide employees with, and participate in, informative seminars regarding particular disabilities to promote understanding and cooperation
  • Create anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in the workplace, and make sure employees understand the policies
  • Include in your policy complaint procedures for employees who believe they have been harassed or discriminated against at work
  • Maintain an open-minded and flexible approach

I’m wondering: what kinds of things does your company do to prevent discrimination based on disability in the workplace?

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Assistant Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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