Employers, landlords, service providers and other potential respondents under the Code have a duty to accommodate the protected characteristics of their employees, tenants, customers and clients.
To prove that it met its duty to accommodate, a respondent must show that it took all reasonable and practical steps to avoid the negative effect on the complainant. In the employment context, this may mean making changes to an employee’s job duties, altering their work environment, or changing their hours of work.
Respondents have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. This means that the respondent may have to incur some hardship (e.g., cost, inconvenience) to meet the duty to accommodate.
To meet their duty to accommodate, respondents should also take steps to inform themselves about the nature of the accommodation-seeker’s needs and their capabilities and limitations at work.
Example: A person suffers an injury and can no longer perform part of their job duties due to their disability. The employer may have to alter the employee’s job duties or take other steps to allow the employee to do their job, unless this would cause the employer undue hardship.
Whether a respondent has met their duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship depends on all of the circumstances. The following factors may be considered:
- Financial cost of the accommodations
- Issues of safety and risk
- Size of the workplace
- Interchangeability of the workforce
- Disruption to a collective agreement
- Impact of the accommodation on others
A respondent may have to give evidence about the accommodations they have offered and why it would be an undue hardship for them to do more.
Complainants must participate in the search for reasonable accommodation. A person seeking accommodation may have to provide medical information about their disability and accommodation needs.
Complainants are entitled to reasonable accommodation, not perfect accommodation. A respondent may be able to prove that they did not discriminate if they can show that they offered a reasonable accommodation, but the complainant rejected it.