Concordia University in Montreal has been charged with contempt of court after it refused to comply with an arbitrator’s decision that it had discriminated against an employee with a disability and should reinstate him.
The university hired Donald Poirer as an electronic technician in February 2004. After he was hired, he told his co-workers and superiors of a back condition which involved a herniated disc. However, he was forced to lift heavy loads during the installation of new computer labs at the university. The work aggravated his back and in October 2004 he went on medical leave for a back injury. Concordia fired him on July 26, 2005, claiming his job required lifting and Poirer had deliberately concealed that he had a condition which could affect his ability to do his job.
Arbitrator Louise Doyon ruled the termination and the university’s failure to try to find Poirer another position violated the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which prohibits discrimination based on a physical handicap. She found his disability was not something that should affect his normal duties as an electronic technician. Doyon ordered Concordia to reverse the termination and meet with the union to work out Poirer’s reinstatement. However, Concordia offered to only pay a few months of his salary and eliminated his position.
Concordia has been involved in lengthy and difficult contract negotiations with many employees, including the technicians’ union.
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