Peter Straszynski discusses human rights and accommodation as
part of the Torkin Manes LegalPoint Video Series.
Question: What is a Request for Accommodation?
If you are a business owner, chances are that you or your staff
have had an employee make the following type of request:
perhaps a request to take time off
or a request to change hours of work;
maybe a request to change or modify
Depending on the employee's reason for making this request,
it may be characterized as a request for
Common requests for accommodation include the following:
a request to take time off work due
to illness or injury;
a request to modify duties due to
maybe a request for a different shift
due to family care responsibilities.
Question: Must I grant all Requests for Accommodation?
As an employer operating a business in Ontario, you have a duty
to accommodate an employee's needs when they are related to
certain protected grounds.
The duty to accommodate requires that the most appropriate
accommodation be determined and undertaken, short of undue
When assessing undue hardship, factors include cost, outside
sources of funding and health and safety.
It is very important in this process to avoid jumping to
Even where the best solution might result in undue hardship,
there is still a duty to take next-best steps until more ideal ones
can be put in place.
Everyone involved must share relevant information and explore
In some cases, obtaining further information from an expert is
Question: What are the consequences for failure to
The consequences for an employer who has failed in its duty to
accommodate can be very costly. In some cases, it may result in a
finding that your organization has breached applicable human rights
legislation with the possibility of substantial damages being
Q. What should I do to prepare my business for accommodation
As an employer, you must take steps to ensure that your
organization is familiar with its duty to accommodate. This can be
achieved by creating effective policies and training programs for
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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