An employee's mental disability, unknown to his employer at
the time of dismissal, played no role in the reason he was fired.
He was fired because he made violent threats against coworkers, the
Ontario Court of Appeal has held.
Although the employer had been accommodating of the
employee's "various 'disabilities' he reported to
them over time: his alcoholism, his thyroid and cardiac
issues", the employer was unaware of his "mental
disability" and did not engage in discriminatory conduct in
firing him for workplace violence. The court stated, "They
fired him as they would any employee who engaged in such workplace
The Ontario Court of Appeal quoted the following statement of
the British Columbia Court of Appeal in British Columbia
(Public Service Agency) v. British Columbia Government and Services
Employees' Union, 2008 BCCA 357 (CanLII) in which an alcoholic
employee was fired for theft:
"I can find no suggestion in the evidence that Mr.
Gooding's termination was arbitrary and based on preconceived
ideas concerning his alcohol dependency. It was based on his
conduct that rose to the level of crime. That his conduct might
have been influenced by his alcohol dependency is irrelevant if
that admitted dependency played no part in the employer's
decision to terminate his employment and he suffered no impact for
his misconduct greater than that another employee who suffered for
the same misconduct."
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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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