Part 3. Understanding the Duty to Accommodate

Understanding the Duty to Accommodate

Note: If you require a certificate of completion please use the Certificate Version instead.

 

NARRATOR:
Accommodating the individual needs of people with disabilities is a legal duty under the Code. This allows people to benefit equally and take part fully in the workplace, housing, and other services. The most appropriate accommodation is the one that best meets the individual needs of the person with a disability. You are only exempt if it would cause undue hardship — a very high test.

NARRATOR:
There is no set formula for accommodation. Some accommodations can benefit many people, but what works for one person may not work for others. You must consider individual needs each time a person asks to be accommodated. Many accommodations can be made easily and inexpensively. But if it's not possible to put the best solution in place, or if doing so results in undue hardship, you still have the duty to take the next-best steps. Examples of accommodation include:
- Providing printed material in alternative formats such as electronic files, large print or Braille.
- Providing sign language interpreters or real-time captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Offering flexible work hours or break times
- Modifying job duties, retraining, or offering alternative work
- Installing automatic door openers and accessible washrooms Accommodation doesn't have to be provided if it causes undue hardship. Undue hardship is the legal limit of the duty to accommodate. It refers to situations where severe negative effects outweigh the benefit of providing accommodation. Three factors are used to determine undue hardship:
- One: Costs. Renovating an older building to make it accessible may be too costly for a small business. If the business must reduce staff or hours to provide the accommodation, then it may be able to claim undue hardship.
- Two: Are there external funding sources, such as grants or tax breaks, to reduce the accommodation costs?
- And Three: Health and safety considerations. For example, there may be undue hardship if the accommodation violates occupational health and safety regulations. Employers must try to keep all workers safe and still accommodate the needs of the worker with a disability. If a significant risk remains for others, it will be undue hardship. If a significant risk remains only for the worker with a disability, they might have the right to accept the risk. The courts have set a very high standard of proof. You must provide clear evidence if you are claiming undue hardship. Employers have a duty to accommodate the employee as fully and as promptly as possible in his or her job. Modifying job duties might be appropriate in some cases. If accommodation in the original job isn't possible or would cause undue hardship, consider other available jobs or re-training opportunities that could accommodate the employee in another job. You may be held liable if your organization fails to take steps over time to accommodate employee needs.

NARRATOR:
Everyone involved must take part in the accommodation process. Sometimes outside experts can help too. If you need an accommodation:
- Tell your employer, union, landlord, or service provider about any needs related to your disability and your job duties, tenancy, or the services being provided.
- Provide supporting information about your disability-related needs, including medical or other expert opinions where required.
- Get involved in seeking accommodation solutions to the best of your ability. An employer, union, landlord, or service provider must:
- Accept requests for accommodation in good faith.
- Act promptly, even if it means creating a temporary solution before a long-term one can be put in place.
- Ask only for information needed to provide the accommodation. For example, you may need to know that someone with vision loss is unable to read printed material, but not how or why she lost her vision.
- Actively seek appropriate accommodation solutions and ask for expert help if needed.
- Cooperate with other parties where necessary.
- Respect the dignity and privacy of the person asking for accommodation, and make sure the accommodation process doesn't lead to reprisals against that person.
- Cover the costs of accommodations, such as any needed medical or other expert opinions or documents, to the point of undue hardship.

Quiz for Part 3

1) True/False
Organizations can choose the same accommodation for people with same types of disabilities, so what works for one person will work for other people, too.

True
False

False! While one form of accommodation may benefit others, the most appropriate accommodation is the one that best meets the individual needs of the person with a disability. Accommodating the individual needs of people with disabilities is a legal duty under the Code. This allows people to benefit equally and take part fully in the workplace, housing, and other services.

2) Multiple Choice
Undue hardship is the legal limit of the duty to accommodate. It refers to situations where severe negative effects outweigh the benefit of providing accommodation. What are the three factors used to determine undue hardship?
  A.  Cost, size of the organization and health and safety
  B.  Cost, external funding sources (such as grants), and health and safety
  C.  Cost, opinions of staff members and the organization’s policies

The correct response is (b): The three factors used to determine undue hardship are: 1. Costs. Renovating an older building to make it accessible may be too costly for a small business. If the business must reduce staff or hours to provide the accommodation, then it may be able to claim undue hardship. 2. Are there external funding sources, such as grants or tax breaks, to reduce the accommodation costs? And... 3. Health and safety considerations. For example, there may be undue hardship if the accommodation violates occupational health and safety regulations. Employers must try to keep all workers safe and still accommodate the needs of the worker with a disability. If a significant risk remains for others, it will be undue hardship. If a significant risk remains only for the worker with a disability, they might have the right to accept the risk.

3) Multiple Choice
When a person requests an accommodation, the employer, landlord or service provider must:
  A.  Act promptly, even if it means creating a temporary solution before a long-term one can be put in place.
  B.  Actively seek appropriate accommodation solutions and ask for expert help if needed.
  C.  Respect the dignity and privacy of the person asking for accommodation, and make sure the accommodation process doesn’t lead to reprisals against that person.
  D.  Cover the costs of accommodations, such as any needed medical or other expert opinions or documents, to the point of undue hardship.
  E.  C and D
  F.  All of the above

The correct answer is (f) All of the above. Employers, landlords and service providers are required by law to take all of these steps to meet an accommodation request, to the point of undue hardship. Taking these steps will help people with disabilities fully take part in the social and economic life of our communities.

4) Multiple Choice
If you need an accommodation, what should you do?
A.  Tell your employer, union, landlord or service provider about your disability-related needs.
B.  Provide supporting information about your disability-related needs.
C.  Help identify possible solutions for accommodation.
D.  All of the above.

The correct answer is (d) All of the above.