The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
("AODA") has been around for a while. So what's
the big deal now?
For starters, recent Freedom of Information Act
requests have demonstrated that about 70% of Ontario private sector
employers with 20 or more employees have not yet complied
with required self-reporting requirements to demonstrate that
they are compliant with the AODA. Perhaps more importantly,
most private sector employers with 20 or more employees don't
even realize that they have certain obligations under
the AODA as of January 1, 2014.
While reference should be had to the legislation for particulars
as to the imminent requirements, the following should serve as a
high level overview of what needs to be done by certain
Public sector employers with 20 or more employees are to file a
compliance report with the Ontario government by December 31, 2013,
confirming that they are currently compliant with the
Accessibility Standards for Customer
Service. The filing can be done online.
By January 1, 2014, those same employers must also develop
policiesgoverning how they will meet
their requirements under the Integrated Accessibility
Standards. In addition, a multi-year
accessiblity plan must be
developed, posted on the organizations' websites, and provided
in an accessible format upon request.
For employers with 50 or more employees in Ontario that are
launching a new website or undertaking a significant website
refresh after January 1, 2014, the website is required to conform
to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessbility
Guidelines 2.0 Level A unless an exception applies or the company
can demonstrate that meeting the guidelines is not practical.
Because most Ontario businesses are not compliant with the
AODA, the Ontario government has begun issuing notices of
non-compliance and has indicated that it intends to pursue
businesses which are non-responsive.
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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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