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Disability Related Accommodation Requests: Ontario’s New Human Rights Policy

Written by on August 29, 2017 in Employment Law Blog, Employment Law Issues
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Employers are required to accommodate employees where the need for accommodation relates to a ground protected by human rights legislation.

This includes disability.

But how much medical information must an employee provide to their employer when requesting disability-related accommodation?

Last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a newly updated Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability, which includes guidance on what medical documentation must be provided when a disability-related accommodation request has been made. The policy outlines the responsibilities of employers and employees alike: the employee must provide sufficient information for their employer to make an informed decision about appropriate accommodations and how they can be implemented, while the employer should limit requests for information so that the employee’s privacy is intruded upon as little as possible. The policy emphasizes that the information provided should focus on the “functional limitations” associated with the employee’s disability, not the diagnosis.

The medical documentation provided should shed light on:

  • the limitations or needs associated with the disability
  • whether the employee can perform the essential duties or requirements of the job, with or without accommodation
  • the type of accommodation that may be needed to allow the employee to fulfill the essential duties or requirements of the job

The policy also emphasizes that the information requested and provided must be the least intrusive of the employee’s privacy. The employer does not have the right to know the employee’s confidential medical information, such as the cause of the disability, diagnosis, symptoms or treatment, unless these clearly relate to the accommodation being sought.

The policy strikes a balance between the employer’s need for information to respond to requests for accommodation and the employee’s right to privacy and dignity.

Employers should have an accommodation policy in place, as well as a consistent process for responding to requests for accommodation. They are encouraged to maintain communication with the employee throughout the process, and request only information that relates directly to the employee’s ability to do the job.

Lessons for Employees

Given the above, it is critical that Employees obtain advice from an Employment Lawyer when requesting accommodation at the workplace so that the proper medical documentation and information is being submitted to the Employer, without being too intrusive on the Employee’s privacy in the process.

Lessons for Employers

Employers should ensure that their current workplace policies are in accordance with the above, and seek the assistance and guidance from an Employment Lawyer while undertaking this review to ensure that enough information is being requested from the Employees in support of the sought after accommodation, while at the same time ensuring that the Employee’s privacy is intruded upon as little as possible.

Minken Employment Lawyers is your source for expert advice and advocacy on today’s employment law issues. Whether you are an employer or an employee, we can help. Contact us to see how.

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