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Queen's University

Disabilities and the Duty to Accommodate

How do you determine if a standard constitutes a bona fide occupational requirement?

In this case, an employer wrongfully dismisses a female employee who fails to meet a newly imposed aerobic standard. The Supreme Court of Canada establishes the Meiorin three-part test for bona fide occupational requirements to determine that the aerobic standard is discriminatory against women and does not constitute a B.F.O.R. This test becomes key in interpreting the duty to accommodate in all instances.

How do you reconcile a standard that is meant to apply universally with the need to accommodate an individual with a disability?

In the Grismer case a service provider wrongfully denies a drivers license to a man with a disability who fails a generic visual acuity test. The Supreme Court of Canada interprets the Meiorin 3-part test to include the duty to test persons with disabilities

What are the responsibilities of individuals seeking accommodation for a disability?

In the L.B. (committee of) case, an employer rightfully dismisses an employee with a mental disability who fails to provide medical documentation upon request. A Human Rights Commission interprets the Meiorin three-part test to establish the duty of employees to facilitate the accommodation process.

What documentation is considered appropriate to demonstrate the need for accommodation for a disability?

In the Desormeaux case, an employer rejects a medical assessment and wrongfully fires a chronically absent employee with a disability. The Human Rights Tribunal establishes the legitimacy of the  assessment and denounces the failure of the employer to accommodate the employee to the point of undue hardship.

How do the rules for accommodating persons with disabilities apply to universities and their students?

In the Berg case, a university denies a key and an evaluation sheet to a depressed student with a history of erratic behaviour. The Supreme Court of Canada rules that universities are service providers; that keys and evaluations are services customarily offered to students; and that they must therefore provide, without discrimination, those same services to students with disabilities.

Just how far does the duty to accommodate university students with disabilities go?

In the Howard case, a university refuses to pay $40, 000 a year to accommodate a student with a hearing disability who has exhausted all sources of external funding. The B.C. Human Rights Council rules that given the size of the university, a cost of $40, 000 a year does not constitute undue hardship.

Under U.K. human rights law, what happens to an employee's benefits if she is forced to resign as a result of her employer's refusal to accommodate her disability (constructive dismissal

In the Meikle case, an employer refuses to accommodate a teacher with a disability, who is eventually forced to resign. A U.K. Court of Appeal, establishes that this act of constructive dismissal is discriminatory and orders the employer to compensate the employee for lost benefits and wages. This U.K. decision is analogous to Canadian Human Rights precedents.

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