Arbitrator Finds Failure to Exhaust Search for Accommodation

In a recent decision, a labour arbitrator found that an employer had failed to exhaust the search for accommodation options for an employee with a permanent disability before attempting to terminate her employment. 

In Sodexo Canada Ltd v Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 145, Arbitrator Randi Abramsky recognized that the search for accommodation for the grievor’s disability had been a long and difficult one. Nonetheless, she determined that the employer had not yet met the point of undue hardship in accommodating the grievor when it attempted to end her employment in mid-2018.

The Arbitrator found that the employer had not addressed two considerations which were fundamental to its duty to accommodate. First, the employer could not establish that the grievor was unable to perform a modified version of her former position using assistive equipment. Second, even if the grievor could not perform her own position, the Arbitrator found that the employer had not looked beyond the grievor’s original work location to attempt to find position she could perform at other worksites.

As a result, the Arbitrator concluded that the employer had breached its procedural duty to accommodate the grievor, contrary to the Human Rights Code. She therefore directed the employer to work with the grievor and the Union to explore these accommodation options, with the issue of damages and compensation for the breach to be determined once the accommodation process concluded.

The Union was represented in this case by Morgan Rowe of RavenLaw.