The underlying principle of an employer's duty to accommodate is to protect people on the basis of prohibited grounds of discrimination from an intentional act of exclusion in employment, because their needs are different form those of the majority.
The duty to accommodate applies to all grounds of discrimination, but it is most likely to arise in the context of disability, creed, sex (including pregnancy and breast-feeding), and family status, where special needs are mostly common.
i) Accommodating employees with Disabilities
Under s.17 of the Human Rights Code, it specifies the duty to accommodate a disability, that individuals may not be able to perform every part of every job. It means an employee with a disability is only required to perform job duties that are essential. Accommodations such as changing the way the work is done, making changes to the layout of the workplace to be barrier-free, modifying work hours or such may be implemented.
ii) Accommodating employees who abuse Drugs or Alcohol
Alcohol and Drug abuse are defined as a disability under the Canadian law, and the individual addicted to these substances should be reasonably accommodated unless it causes employer an undue hardship. An employer may require to accept lengthy and ongoing absences as long as it is related to rehabilitation, and, meanwhile, that employee also needs to cooperate to attend therapy or counselling.
However, the recreational use of drugs or alcohol does not qualify as a disability, and there is no statutory duty to accommodate under this situation.
iii) Accommodating employees' Religious Beliefs and Practices
An employer's duty to accommodate on the basis of religion includes dress codes, break policies, work schedules, and religious leave, with flexibility built into an employer's policies. Recent example relating to religious accommodation "Ontario teens fired after skipping work for religious holiday awarded $26,000" was published in the Toronto Star on August 20, 2015. An employer is required to accommodate in relation to religious beliefs and practices, provided that advance notice from the employee is given and its choice of accommodation is reasonable, unless an employer can prove that it will cause an undue hardship.
iv) Accommodating employees' Pregnancy & Breast-feeding needs
There is an employer's duty to accommodate in relation to employees' pregnancy and breast-feeding needs, including modification of work duties, relocation from a work area that might endanger the pregnancy, a flexible work schedule, increased break time, and appropriate workplace support for breast-feeding etc.
v) Accommodating employees' Family Status
An employer has an obligation to assist employees to balance work and family responsibilities. For example, an employer may need to provide flexible work hours, so that an employee can take care of aging parents or children when having difficulties arranging alternative care.
Your next question probably would be "what if an employer cannot accommodate under certain situation(s)?" Under specific circumstance, an employer is not necessarily required to accommodate, only if an employer can prove even reasonably measures to accommodation can cause an undue hardship, in terms of (a) financial cost or/and (b) health and safety risks in specified standards.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be construed as a legal advice, but strictly for information only in this entire website. Please contact Trustworthy Legal Service for your independent legal advice in your particular situation. The first consultation is also required prior to my retainer of your case.
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