Employers have a duty to accommodate employees suffering from mental illnesses. But distinguishing mental illness from ordinary anxiety is no easy matter.
Employers aren’t expected to be experts in mental health or mental disability. Mental illness and the mental disability it can cause are complex medical issues, and there may be times when the employer needs to seek expert medical advice or guidance.
Is it the employer’s duty to inquire whether an employee has a mental disability? The BCHRT recently considered a case that addresses this.
Generally, before an employer can be required to accommodate an employee’s mental disability, the employer must know, or ought reasonably to know, that the employee has such a disability in the first place. It is usually up to the employee to inform the employer of the disability.
If, however, the employer has reason to suspect a disability, the employer may have a “duty to inquire” as to whether the employee has a mental disability, before taking steps that would negatively affect the employee. A failure to make such an inquiry may lead to a finding of discrimination. The recent decision of Hammell v. Corporation of Delta and another, 2017 BCHRT 246, sheds helpful light on the question of whether and how the duty to inquire … Continue reading “BCHRT considers the duty to inquire as to the presence of a mental disability”