Top court sets limits on duty to accommodate

Accommodation to be balanced with employees’ duty to work
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian Employment Law Today

In a ruling being hailed as a victory for employers, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that an employer’s duty to accommodate a worker has to be balanced with an employee’s duty to work.

Employers don’t have “a duty to change working conditions in a fundamental way,” wrote the high court in the unanimous ruling. What’s more, the test of undue hardship is not whether it’s impossible for an employer to accommodate an individual employee’s needs — it’s just whether the accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship. Management-side lawyers appl-auded the ruling.

“It’s not every day the Supreme Court of Canada has an opportunity to rule on the duty to accommodate,” said Dominique Monet, partner at the Montreal office of Fasken Martineau.