With the publication of an Enforcement Guidance document in March 1997, EEOC has sent a message to all employers, including fire departments, that they must look carefully at ways to accommodate employees who suffer mental impairments.
The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for otherwise qualified employees who have a psychiatric disability, unless doing so would cause undue hardship, or pose a direct threat to the safety of the employee or others.
When the Ontario Human Rights Code was originally passed, the concept of barrier removal and duty to accommodate were relatively new.
In the past 10 years both the courts and legislators have been turning their attention to these issues.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has published guidelines to the duty to accommodate.Accommodation is a way of helping your employees work more effectively by overcoming limitations caused by disabilities.Usually, accommodations are easy to implement, inexpensive (less than 0), and demonstrate a commitment to a healthier, more equitable workplace.Therefore, there is a greater expectation that the needs of people with disabilities will be taken into account when planning all aspects of a business.In this context, it will be harder for an employer to argue that removing a newly created barrier constitutes “undue hardship” even if it is a high cost. Instead, the test is whether the cost is so high that it would threaten the viability of the employer’s business or change the nature of the business.