In this time of rapidly changing circumstances, neither the Human Rights Tribunal nor the courts have had time to weigh in on whether COVID-19 amounts to a disability. However, in my view as BC’s Human Rights Commissioner, it does.
Employers should investigate further before immediately dismissing employees for violating workplace drug and alcohol policies. An employee’s diagnosis of substance dependence would be considered a disability, which is a protected ground under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) for federally regulated employers.
It would appear that there is an increasing willingness on the part of the HRTO to grant significant monetary awards to discriminated employees.