Low wage for disabled worker was ongoing discrimination: Tribunal

Company paid employees with developmental disabilities lower wages over several years
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/28/2012

A disabled employee’s pay that was below minimum wage constituted an ongoing series of incidents over several years, rather than a single instance of discrimination, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.

In the late 1990s, Janus Joan Inc., a manufacturing company in St. Catherines, Ont., hired some people with developmental disabilities to perform general labourer jobs. The disabled individuals did the same work as labourers without disabilities, except for tasks requiring fine skills. However, while the regular labourers were paid minimum wage or more, the disabled workers were initially paid $1 per hour, which later increased to $1.25 per hour.

Terri-Lynn Garrie was one of the disabled individuals employed by Janus Joan and worked 40 hours per week. Though Garrie’s parents were uneasy with the pay differential between disabled and abled workers, they didn’t complain because Garrie enjoyed her job and being around other people in the workplace. They also felt the company otherwise treated Garrie with respect.