Employer must start accommodation process

Court of Appeal upholds finding that employer had to get more info to help employee return
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/16/2011

A national company should have investigated its options for accommodation rather than rely on limited information from a benefits provider on a disabled employee’s ability to come back to work, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled.

Lynda Kerr was a pharmaceutical sales representative in British Columbia for Boehringer Ingelheim Canada (BIC), a German-owned supplier of pharmaceuticals based in Burlington, Ont. The position involved a lot of time on the computer and a significant amount of driving. BIC hired Kerr in 1996 and she worked until 1999, when she was diagnosed with cataracts. Doctors told Kerr the cataracts would cause her vision to deteriorate to the point that within two years, she would barely be able to see. In May 2000, Kerr told BIC that she wanted to resign. BIC advised Kerr to apply for disability leave.

Vision didn’t deteriorate as badly as expected