What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the
"AODA") is provincial legislation that requires
organizations to provide accessibility pursuant to five standards,
namely: Customer Service; Employment; Information and
Communications; Transportation; and Design of Public Spaces. The
AODA has staggered compliance dates.
The Customer Service Standard was the first of the five
accessibility standards to become law.
Has your organization complied?
As of January 1, 2012, private sector organizations were
required to comply with the Customer Service Standard obligations.
As of December 31, 2012, private sector organizations (with 20 or
more employees) were required to file an Accessibility Report
online with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
As well, as of January 1, 2012, under the Integrated
Accessibility Standards Regulation, certain employers were required
to prepare individualized response information for employees with
disabilities and, upon request, prepare emergency procedures, plans
or public safety information in an accessible format.
If your organization has not yet complied with the Customer
Service Standard, Beware!
When organizations do not comply with their obligations under
the AODA, the government has the power to conduct inspections
(without a warrant!), impose monetary penalties and prosecute. The
AODA provides for fines as high as $100,000 a day for an
Does the Customer Service Standard of the AODA apply to your
The answer is most likely YES.
The Customer Service Standard applies broadly to organizations
that: i) provide goods or services to "customers," which
include the public and other businesses, wholesalers, suppliers and
consultants; and ii) have one or more employees in Ontario.
What does your organization have to do to comply with the
Customer Service Standard of the AODA?
Broadly speaking, the Customer Service Standard requires
Create and implement policies and procedures;
Publish the policies and procedures in a public and accessible
Train all workers with respect to the policies; and
File a report.
What is next?
Organizations are required to comply with the Integrated
Accessibility Standards Regulation. Your organization's
obligations and timelines for doing so under the Integrated
Accessibility Standards Regulations will depend on how your
organization is classified under the Regulation. Broadly speaking,
private sector organizations are required to comply with several
requirements by January 1, 2014, including: the preparation of an
Accessibility Policy and multi-year Accessibility Plan and ensuring
that their websites and web content conform with accessibility
The Aird & Berlis LLP Labour & Employment Team strongly
encourages organizations to start planning for their compliance
with the Employment Standard and the Information and Communications
Standard. Organizations wanting to ensure that they have satisfied
the Customer Service Standard obligations should contact Lorenzo
Lisi at 416.865.7722 or llisi@airdberlis. com.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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