Employer not at fault for failure to accommodate

Employee promised to improve attendance but employer wasn’t aware of the extent of employee’s depression
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 01/21/2014

All employers have a duty to accommodate employees or have an illness or disability. The duty to accommodate doesn’t always mean the employee must be kept around, but it does mean an employer must investigate all of its options — such as modified job duties, a different job posting or shorter hours — to determine if it’s possible to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. If it’s not possible to accommodate the employee without causing undue hardship, or harm to the business, then the employer may not have to keep the employee around.

However, an important part of investigating accommodation options is for the employer to have the information it needs to make such a determination. The employee has role in providing such information on her accommodation needs, particularly in letting the employer know accommodation is required in the first place. If the employer doesn’t know the extent of the disability, it can’t fulfil its duty to accommodate.