In ‘denial’: Alberta Court of Appeal revisits addiction in the workplace

August 23, 2015 - by: Hannah Roskey 0 COMMENTS

by Hannah Roskey

The Alberta Court of Appeal recently released its decision in Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corporation, a must-read for Canadian employers dealing with employee addiction issues.

In lengthy reasons, a majority of the court agreed that there was no discrimination when an employee under the influence of cocaine was fired following a workplace accident. However, contrary to the findings of the Court of Queen’s Bench, the Court of Appeal also determined that the employee had been reasonably accommodated even though he was in “denial” of his addiction. read more…

Ontario employers should check for overdue accessibility compliance reports

April 12, 2015 - by: Cathy Chandler 0 COMMENTS

by Cathy Chandler

In 2005, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in the world to enact proactive legislation designed to establish policies and programs to promote the provision of services to people with disabilities in five areas: customer service, employment, information and communications, public transportation, and design of public spaces.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires organizations to do many things, including to file certain reports. Private-sector organizations with 20 or more employees were required to complete by December 31, 2014, an online report to tell the government if they have met their accessibility requirements under the AODA. (Designated public-sector organizations and the Government of Ontario also are required to file accessibility reports but on a different schedule.) read more…

Duty to accommodate doesn’t require exempting employee from essential duties

March 15, 2015 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Andrew Bratt and Megan Rolland

Canadian human rights legislation generally requires employers to accommodate the disabilities of their employees up to the point of undue hardship. In the recent case of Pourasadi v. Bentley Leathers Inc. (2015 HRTO 138), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario considered whether undue hardship was reached in the context of a retail employee with a physical disability that affected her ability to serve customers. read more…

Google: not a replacement for individualized accommodation

January 25, 2015 - by: Megan Rolland 0 COMMENTS

by Megan Rolland

It may be convenient and easy to use, but you cannot find the answer to everything on the Internet. As one Canadian employer recently learned, Google research on a medical condition is not a proper substitute for individualized accommodation. read more…

Adverse-effect discrimination and probationary employees

September 28, 2014 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

by Kyla Stott-Jess

In Canada, it is well-established that employers cannot simply terminate employees whose work performance is negatively impacted by disability. Rather, an employer must attempt to accommodate the employee to the point of undue hardship. But what happens when the employee fails to notify the employer of his disability? Further, what accommodation does an employer need to provide to an employee who is still within a three-month probation period? read more…

‘But it was due to my addiction’—when is last-minute confession too late?

June 01, 2014 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

It is not uncommon for an employee to disclose an addiction only when being terminated for misconduct that may be related to the employee’s substance abuse. The employee then tries to trigger human rights protections due to his or her “disability.” A recent Alberta court decision, Bish v. Elk Valley Coal Corporation, provides a good example of when such a claim may simply be too little, too late, even under Canada’s protective human rights laws. read more…

Allergies in the workplace can’t be ignored

September 29, 2013 - by: Eowynne Noble 1 COMMENTS

By Eowynne Noble

Peanuts, gluten, perfumes, smoke, and latex—we all know allergies to these and other substances are on the rise. And workplaces aren’t immune to the problem. More and more employees are suffering from allergies and sensitivities than ever before.

To put it in perspective, Health Canada recently reported that up to four percent of Canadians have a physician-diagnosed food allergy. We understand that schools accommodate these types of allergies, but surely employers don’t have to. Not true, as was made clear in a recent Ontario arbitration decision, London Health Sciences Centre v. Ontario Nurses’ Association (LHSC v. ONA). read more…

Mood problem or mental disorder? When can employers discipline?

May 12, 2013 - by: Kyla Stott-Jess 0 COMMENTS

By Kyla Stott-Jess

Employers in Canada can’t discriminate against employees based on mental disabilities. But the broad interpretation that courts and arbitration boards frequently apply to human rights laws often makes it difficult to know where the boundaries of “mental disability” lie.

In a recent arbitration decision in Ontario, Windsor (City) and WPFFA (Elliot), the arbitrator found that an employee’s mood problems and stress issues weren’t classifiable as mental disorders. He didn’t qualify as having a mental health disability requiring accommodation. read more…

Better an addict than a thief: disciplining drug- and alcohol-dependent employees

March 24, 2013 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Jennifer M. Shepherd and Hannah Roskey

It’s well established that discrimination against an employee on the basis of a physical or mental disability is prohibited in Canada. Drug or alcohol addictions constitute a “disability” under most human rights legislation such that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of their addictions.

read more…

Indefinite protection for federal employee disabled by work-related injury

November 11, 2012 - by: Nicola Sutton 0 COMMENTS

by Nicola Sutton

When the employment relationship becomes impossible to perform because of a factor outside the control of a Canadian employer or employee, the employee’s employment can be terminated by virtue of frustration of contract. When an employee won’t be able to return to work because of injury or illness, the same applies. But not so for federally regulated employers such as banks, airlines, inter-provincial trucking companies, etc.

According to the recent decision of Kingsway Transport v. Teamsters, Local Union 91, the frustration argument is no longer available for those employers when the employee’s inability to return to work is because of a work-related injury or illness. read more…

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