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Disability Discrimination
Blog

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace: Understanding Your Rights

June 11, 2024

Imagine putting in a lot of effort at work, but due to a disability, you are consistently passed over for training opportunities or promotions. Perhaps your manager won’t obtain the equipment you need to perform your work properly, or perhaps you need a wheelchair and you were never even invited for an interview. That is simply incorrect!

The good news is that you are protected against this type of activity under Canadian law. It is known as disability discrimination and is prohibited. You have rights regardless of whether your impairment is apparent or now interferes with your ability to do your job.

The bottom line is that, like everyone else, you should be treated with respect and worth at work. This blog will describe the types of disability discrimination, your legal rights, and more. 

What is Disability Discrimination?

There are different workplace discriminations in Canada regarding age, race, and disabilities. Today’s main focus is disability discrimination which is when a person is treated unfairly at work because of their disability. This may occur throughout the hiring process, during a promotion, or even after an employee is fired.

Workplace Disability Discrimination Types

Now let’s go over each type of disability discrimination:

  • Exclusion from Work Opportunities

Employers may purposefully keep disabled people out of assignments, professional progression chances, and jobs. Direct discrimination based on disability of this kind is intolerable and ought to be prevented. Reducing an employee’s salary upon their return from  a disability-related leave, for instance, is an obvious example of this kind of discrimination.

  • Discrimination Through Indirect Means

When a company’s policies unintentionally disadvantage a group of individuals, it is indirect discrimination. For example, requiring driving skills as a prerequisite for employment may have a detrimental effect on people with impairments.

It is important to carefully examine these policies to make sure that no one is inadvertently left out or disadvantaged.

  • Discrimination via Organization

It occurs when an individual experiences unfair treatment solely due to their relationship with someone who has a disability. This relationship could be with a friend, family member, or even an acquaintance. An example of this would be if a company declined to promote a worker because they thought the worker would require more time off to care for a handicapped spouse. The key takeaway is that even if prejudice isn’t loud or obvious, it can still have a negative impact and needs to be addressed.

  • Disability Discrimination and Unwelcoming Workplace

Making unwanted comments or acting in ways that make the workplace unfriendly for workers with disabilities are examples of harassment based on a disability. For example:

  • Name-calling or using mean nicknames
  • Making fun of your disability
  • Telling you that your disability isn’t real

Here’s an example: A boss tells everyone that people with learning problems are just lazy. It is imperative to promptly notify the employer of such instances and take appropriate action to uphold a workplace that is inclusive and courteous.

  • Discrimination in Systems

A workplace’s attitudes, rules, and practices that have developed over time and provide substantial disadvantages for employees with disabilities are collectively referred to as systemic discrimination. Although it may be difficult to change these deeply embedded practices, they must be addressed to guarantee an equitable and welcoming workplace.

The key takeaways from disability discrimination are the following: 

  • Discrimination during hiring: Companies can’t reject you based on disability (wheelchair use) or ask irrelevant medical questions.
  • Unequal opportunities: You can’t be denied promotions, training, or job accommodations (ramps) because of a disability.
  • Protection: You’re protected from discrimination even if your disability is invisible, doesn’t affect your work currently, or your employer isn’t aware (with some exceptions).

What Rights Do You Have as a Disabled Employee in Canada?

Employees in Canada are protected against handicap discrimination by several laws. The main ones consist of:

  • Federal Laws: Businesses subject to federal regulation are protected from disability discrimination by the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). People with disabilities are encouraged to have equal chances in these enterprises under the Employment Equity Act.
  • Provincial Laws: Every province and territory has a human rights code that prohibits discrimination against employees based on their disability.

To understand better your rights, you can collaborate with a legal professional

Duties of Employers and Employees 

Employers in Canada are required to provide reasonable accommodations for the requirements of their disabled workers to guarantee equal benefits and opportunities. This obligation calls for implementing fair modifications to the working environment so that individuals can engage fully in the workforce without experiencing discrimination. Meanwhile, your employer should understand workplace safety and health laws so that they can provide an environment where you feel safe and appreciated. 

Employee’s Role in Duty to Accommodate

  • Share your needs with your employer: Let them know that you need accommodations and what type of assistance you would want.
  • Be helpful: Collaborate with your company to identify practical and affordable solutions. 
  • Meet performance standards: After accommodations are made, keep up with the demands of the position.

The Employer’s Responsibility to Provide Access

  • Take the initiative: Even in cases when accommodations are not explicitly sought, employers must be informed of possible needs.
  • Examine your options: Collaborate with an employee to determine other options that might fulfill their requirements.
  • Give resources: Pay for any equipment or medical records that are required to be accommodated.
  • Keep things private: Observe the confidentiality of the worker’s medical records.

Examples of accommodation include:

  • Flexible work schedule
  • Modified job duties
  • Accessible work environment (ramps, wider doorways, etc.)
  • Specialized equipment (ergonomic chairs, screen readers, etc.)
  • Additional training

Remember, the goal of accommodation is to remove barriers and create a workplace where everyone can thrive.

What Action to Take During Workplace Disability Discrimination

Do you feel like someone is treating you unfairly due to your disability? so, what can you do?

  • Keep a notebook and record any incidents that give you the impression that your impairment is the reason why you are not being treated fairly. If someone witnessed it happen, mention the time, date, place, and people present. This is beneficial in case you need to discuss it later.
  • Check to see whether there’s a website or manual at work that explains how to deal with unjust treatment. You could get ideas from this on who to talk to first.
  • Share your concerns with a trusted colleague. This may be your supervisor, an HR representative, or another individual.
  • Describe your impairment and the modifications you require to succeed.
  • If you are unable to settle the issue inside your organization, you may file a human rights complaint with your provincial agency or the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Remember that employment law protects you from disability, so take action.

Why Hiring a Lawyer Can Help Address Disability Discrimination

Even though we described your rights and gave you some first measures to take, dealing with disability discrimination at work can be difficult. A lawyer with expertise in corporate law, for example, can be a great help in your struggle for equitable treatment. How do they benefit?

  • Professional Advice: A lawyer can explain the particular regulations that apply to your circumstance because employment law is a complicated field.
  • Developing a Strong Case: They may assist you in compiling proof, recording your encounters, and developing a compelling case for discrimination.
  • Negotiation and Representation: If it’s possible, a lawyer can work with your employer to reach a just settlement.
  • Court Representation: If your matter proceeds to court, they may be able to represent you.

Looking for an experienced lawyer? Check legal platforms to find a professional who deals with cases like yours. 

Subscribe to Lawvo for Legal Support

Even though now you know more about disability discrimination, you need to remember that each case is different. It’s crucial to consult a legal professional if you think you have been the victim of discrimination. Through the legal portal Lawvo, you may get instant answers to your questions via an AI assistant and legal insight from lawyers who can assess your case and explain your legal choices. Become a Lawvo subscriber now to receive the legal support you need.

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