Disabled worker wins reinstatement — after 10 years

School board worker, who was ready to return after 3 years, awarded more than $400,000
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 05/29/2013

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ordered an employer to reinstate a terminated employee after a finding of discrimination based on disability – a decade after the employee last worked.

Sharon Fair worked for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board beginning in 1988. In 1994, she became Supervisor, Regulated Substances, Asbestos for the board. The job was highly stressful for Fair and she became afraid she would make a mistake about asbestos removal, causing her to be held personally liable for a breach of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Fair’s fear progressively worsened and, by the fall of 2001, she developed a generalized anxiety disorder.

Fair went on leave and received long-term disability benefits through the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. In the summer of 2003, two supervisory positions in other departments became available – including a staff development supervisor position in the same department where Fair was volunteering as part of a work hardening program and for which the school board invited her to apply – but the board didn’t offer either job to her.