Legal Matters: Accessibility in the workplace is a human right
Employees with disabilities are protected from discrimination and harassment in Ontario. Despite this protection they are forced to fight for accommodations of their disabilities that are rightfully theirs, and are frequently made to feel like a nuisance for doing so.
The Ontario Human Rights Code is not new and it is surprising that so many employers continue to run afoul of the obligations it imposes on them. Worse is that many of the employers who find themselves at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal find themselves there repeatedly, often due to their continued ignorance of the Code or an inability to comprehend the basic rights of their employees.
Employers, next time an employee looks like they are struggling, rather than disciplining, isolating or ignoring them, ask if they are OK. Engage your employees in good faith efforts to see if there is something you can do to ensure their continued success in your company. If they disclose a disability, listen to them and do your best to accommodate them— work with them to find a solution that suits both of you.
As we get busier we seem to lose sight of that old saying “treat others as you wish to be treated”. Next time an employee is struggling think about that rather than your bottom line or production targets. Even without detailed knowledge of the Code, committing to treat your employees with dignity and respect will help you avoid unnecessary trips to the Tribunal and is, quite simply, the right thing to do.