The duty to accommodate presents itself to employers in many forms. While the most common accommodation involves a disability, often there are other grounds for accommodation that an employer must address as illustrated in H.T. v. ES Holdings Inc. o/a Country Herbs.
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.
Constructive or adverse discrimination in employment occurs when rules or standards are established that do not discriminate at first glance, but have an adverse effect on persons whose rights are protected under human rights legislation. In such a case, the burden shifts to the employer to establish that such rules or standards are essential to the job, also known as bona fide occupational requirements (BFOR’s. British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU is the leading case which addresses this issue. This seminal human rights case from the Supreme Court of Canada established a three-part test which has become the standard to evaluate constructive discrimination.