Addictions of every kind

What kind of addictions warrant accommodation at work?
By Stuart Rudner
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/06/2016

Question: Can any addiction – such as gambling, video games, etc. – affecting an employee's ability to do her job be considered a disability requiring accommodation before looking at dismissal?

Answer: As set out in the answer to the first question, it is well-established that employers must accommodate disability to the point of undue hardship unless a bona fide occupational requirement would nullify this obligation. Certain addictions, such as alcohol and drugs, have been recognized as legitimate disabilities which entitle the employee to the protection of human rights legislation.

Whether or not a particular addiction is a true disability will be a question of fact. Recently, some employees have alleged that they were addicted to pornography in order to justify surfing pornographic websites at work. So far, that has not been accepted by our courts. However, gambling is recognized at a societal level as a form of addiction, and others will be more readily accepted as time passes.