The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,
2005 (the "AODA") is an Ontario law whose purpose is
to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards in order
to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by 2021.
Since January 1, 2012 Ontario employers with 20 or more employees
were required to be compliant with the AODA's Customer Service
Standard. Compliance includes filing an Accessibility Report.
Likewise, since January 1, 2014, Ontario private sector
employers with 50 or more employees have been required to comply
with requirements under the AODA's Integrated Accessibility
Standard. This includes filing another Accessibility Report on or
before December 31, 2014.
Employers were well warned that non-compliance could lead to
penalties and fines. Most employers have probably complied.
Unfortunately some have not. We are aware of a number of recent
decisions from the Ontario License Appeal Tribunal dealing with
employers that did not file an Accessibility Report in respect of
the Customer Service Standard.1 In each case, the
ultimate punishment was a $500 penalty.
Compared to the possible $15,000 penalty that an employer can
face under the AODA, these penalties are relatively light. However,
in our view, Ontario employers should view these decisions as a
harbinger of increased enforcement and future non-compliance cases
where employers receive larger penalties. Fines can also be levied;
corporations can be fined up to $100,000 per day.
Eligible employers would be wise to confirm that they are AODA
compliant and be sure to file their Integrated Accessibility
Standard Accessibility Report on or before December 31, 2014 (if
they haven't already).
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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