Quebec police officer fired after failing to disclose full medical history

Officer unintentionally failed to reveal full history of mental disorders that disqualified her from job
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 04/26/2012

A Quebec police force that wasn’t given all the necessary medical information by a prospective officer when she was hired was entitled to terminate the officer’s employment, an arbitrator has ruled.

A patrol officer for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) went on disability leave after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of a May 21, 2010, car accident involving a fellow officer. The officer’s mental condition continued for a long time after the accident and she wasn’t able to return to work, so the SQ requested a psychiatric examination to determine her prospects for returning, which she underwent on Jan. 24, 2011.

The psychiatrist determined the officer’s condition was the result of a predisposition towards anxiety that stemmed from depression as a teenager, when she had been diagnosed as having an adjustment disorder. The psychiatrist reported that her likelihood of relapse if she returned to work as a police officer was more than 50 per cent.

Though the officer had indicated she had suffered from depression on an employment questionnaire filled out in May 2009 shortly after she was hired, she hadn’t consulted her medical file and incorrectly recorded the length and seriousness of her depression. She also did not reveal her adjustment disorder. The officer’s psychiatric history affected her qualifications to be a police officer and had the SQ been aware of it, she wouldn’t have been hired. As a result, the officer’s employment was terminated on June 21, 2011.

The arbitrator found termination was appropriate because the SQ did not have all the information it needed at the time of hiring. Since the SQ would not have hired the officer in the first place if it had all the necessary medical information, the employment relationship should not have begun, said the arbitrator. Any other discipline other than termination would not solve the problem.

The arbitrator also found the officer didn’t intentionally mislead the SQ by withholding information and, as it turned out, she didn’t know she had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder. However, this didn’t change the fact she was not qualified for the job and would not have been hired had the SQ received her full medical history, said the arbitrator.

The arbitrator also found there was no duty to accommodate because her condition prevented her from meeting the fundamental qualifications for the job.

For more information see:

Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec v. Sûreté du Québec, 2011 CanLII 63557 (Que. Lab. Arb. Award).

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