Over $50,000 served to fired McDonald’s worker with disability

Restaurant didn’t investigate whether it could accommodate 23-year employee when her skin condition prevented frequent handwashing
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A McDonald’s restaurant in Vancouver learned the hard way the extent of its duty to accommodate an employee who came down with a condition which affected her ability to work in a restaurant environment.

Beena Datt worked at the same McDonald’s in various capacities for 23 years until she developed a skin condition on her hands in 2002. She took time off work on disability leave multiple times but each time she came back, she resumed her normal duties and the condition returned. It was exacerbated by frequent handwashing, which was a problem because McDonald’s employees must wash their hands often in order to maintain acceptable sanitary conditions in accordance with government regulation and the restaurant’s own policies.

McDonald’s said frequent handwashing was an important part of working at the restaurant and thus was an occupational requirement. Trying to accommodate Datt would create an undue hardship and wasn’t feasible.