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…
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…
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…
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.
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…
Employers are regularly called upon to modify the workplace or job duties in order to accommodate disabilities. But personal assistive bodily devices haven’t traditionally been part of the accommodation discussion in Canada. This may now be changing, according to a recent arbitration decision.
Teacher requires hearing aids
A teacher struggled with a serious, progressive hearing loss. She bought an analog hearing aid in the early 1990s. Her hearing got worse, and she couldn’t communicate effectively, which of course is an essential part of teaching.
You give your employee almost 32 weeks’ pay after terminating his employment without cause. He gets another job two weeks later. You’re off the hook, right? Maybe not.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Brito v. Canac Kitchens, a Division of Kohler Canada Co. has recently said no. Instead, you may be required to “make the employee whole” in every respect, not just salary. That could mean disability benefits too, even after he starts his other job.
The duty to accommodate is one of the most difficult issues Canadian employers regularly face. While courts across the country have attempted to define the scope of an employer’s legal obligations with a workable degree of certainty, the practical application of the duty to accommodate remains complex and problematic.
The issue is further clouded by novel fact patterns – leading to different statements of employer obligations. The most recent of these statements comes from the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd./Ltée. v. Kerr.