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accommodation process

Accommodation and when employees don’t engage in the process

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) released a very important development on family status discrimination, in a case that intersects with disability accommodation law. In Misetich v Value Village Stores, the tribunal reviewed the caselaw, including the Federal Court of Appeal’s Johnstone case, and clarified its test for accommodating family status requests in the workplace.

 

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Discriminatory grounds such as family status, age, marital status, etc. that deal with the duty to accommodate

The Ontario Human Rights Code lists a number of personal characteristics protected from discrimination: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. These personal characteristics are often referred to as “protected grounds”. An employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of any protected ground.

 

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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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To IME or not to IME, this is the question

In the recent decision, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (“OHRT”) addressed the issue of when it would be reasonable for an employer to request an Independent Medical Exam (“IME”) from an employee during the accommodation process. The OHRT ruled that an employer request for an IME will be justified when it was “reasonable” in the circumstances of creating an individualized accommodation plan.

 

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The limits on the duty to accommodate

A recent case from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario provides guidance to employers on the extent of the duty to accommodate.

 

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Doctor’s note not always a ticket to a successful human rights claim

When I was in high school and university, it was not uncommon for a few of my classmates to fall ill during exams or just prior to a major test. When explaining to the teacher the next day why they were not present to write the test, one of the more common responses from the teacher would be, “Bring a doctor’s note.”

 

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No procedural duty to accommodate

The Federal Court of Appeal recently ruled in Canada Human Rights Commission v Attorney General of Canada and Bronwyn Cruden, that employers do not have a separate procedural duty to accommodate employees and any procedural inadequacy throughout the accommodation process is not critical where the employer’s actions do not constitute discrimination.

 

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Employee who lied about ability to work justly fired

An Ontario labour arbitrator upheld an employee’s termination for just cause after the employer learned that the employee faked the severity of her injury and ability to perform work for over five years. The arbitrator found that the employer was justified in terminating the employee for just cause because the actions of the employee went to the heart of the employment relationship.

 

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Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three of the most popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with three accommodation on the ground of disability.cases badly handled by employers.

 

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Accommodating scent sensitivities in the workplace

sensitivity-to-scents

Employers must accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The accommodation of scent sensitivities arose in a recent decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”). It raises questions as to what is considered undue hardship when accommodating an employee with a sensitivity to scents.

 

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Duty to accommodate disability case sent back to Human Rights Tribunal

The tribunal that decided the case of alleged discrimination against a part-time paramedic with multiple sclerosis who was shifted to a part-time ambulance driver position (at the paramedic’s pay rate) left some loose ends, according to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The Court sent the case back to the tribunal to decide if the employer reasonably accommodated the employee, even though he was not able to perform important paramedic duties.

 

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What are the employee’s obligations in the accommodation process

The Ontario Human Rights Code provides for a variety of prohibitions against discrimination on stated grounds, including disability. However, the Code goes on to specify “a right of a person under this code is not infringed for the reason only that the person is incapable of performing or fulfilling the essential duties or requirements attending the exercise of the right because of disability”. Reading through the legalese, what this means is that it is not a prohibited act of discrimination to deny an employee a job for the reasons that his disability prevents him from performing that job. However, the Code goes on to provide that a person cannot be found incapable of performing the duties of his position if it is possible for the employer to accommodate his particular needs “without undue hardship”.

 

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