British Columbia employers are bound by human rights laws to accommodate workers with disabilities. Employment law also mandates that employers may not base appointments or discharges upon an employee’s disability.
However, there are conditions under which an employer’s duty to accommodate is limited. If such accommodation causes the employer undue hardship, it might be waived.
The employer’s first step would be to gain information about an employee or potential employee’s disability and accommodation needs. Despite the worker’s right to privacy, an employer may – under these circumstances – seek certain information to determine the accommodation requirements. The employer has the right to inquire into the employee’s medical condition and their recovery prognosis. Furthermore, the employer may seek an assessment of the employee’s current limitations and abilities.
This duty of accommodation is reciprocal because the employee has corresponding obligations. To enjoy reasonable accommodation, the employee must participate in the process. The employer may not have to provide accommodation if it is determined that the employee withheld information to which the employer was entitled.
Employees in British Columbia who are unsure of the accommodations they are entitled to can seek answers through their union, their company’s human resources department or legal counsel with employment law experience.
Similarly, employers who are unsure of their rights to terminate employment have recourse to seek legal advice. Circumstances under which an employee with disabilities may be discharged are limited to cases in which an applicant or employee cannot meet a legitimate job requirement or bona fide occupational requirement.