Husband and wife both discriminated against by employer

Accommodation not sought for wife injured at work; husband was fired because of wife’s workers’ compensation claim
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 02/15/2017

Employers can discriminate against employees in many ways. Whether intentional or not, if an employee is disadvantaged because of a characteristic protected by human rights legislation, the employer can get into human rights trouble. And it doesn’t really matter whether the arrangement is that of an employment or a contractor relationship.

Disability is a common reason for discrimination and it often happens when an employer doesn’t properly investigate whether it can accommodate an employee who’s been injured. And if that employee has a spouse who is also an employee and is dismissed, then the protected ground of family status also comes into play.

An Alberta company discriminated against a married couple who worked as contractors when it fired the husband to avoid the costs and responsibilities of worker’s compensation for the wife who had been injured in a workplace accident, the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.