Failure to account for employee’s caregiving needs was discrimination

Employer lumped all absences, including those needed for taking care of elderly mother, together as reason for dismissal
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/03/2012

Balancing an elderly mother and work

Employers are increasingly facing demands to accommodate the needs of employees with family demands that may affect their work schedule. Family status has become a protected ground for discrimination, and more Canadian jurisdictions are enshrining unpaid job-protected leave for compassionate care of family members. So employers have to be ready to consider any circumstances where an employee is trying to balance the caregiving responsibilities and their job duties.

As with any protected ground, discrimination can happen even if the main reason for dismissal or discipline is something else. As long as the employee’s family status is a factor, there is discrimination. Such as when an employee is fired for too many absences when some of those absences were for providing care for an ailing family member.