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Your workplace rights if you have a disability

You have been willing to make sacrifices to achieve the things you want to accomplish. This may include long nights working to make extra income, denying yourself luxuries to save your money or years taking courses to obtain your degree or certification. You are well qualified for the job you seek. Only one thing holds you back: your physical or mental disability.

Fortunately, Ontario laws provide opportunities for you to pursue the job you want despite any barriers your health may present. These laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or potential employees who may have disabilities but who are otherwise qualified for the position. Your first step toward protecting your rights under these laws is to understand what they are and how they apply to your circumstances.

Are you eligible for accommodations?

Most industries in the province fall under the governance of Ontario law, but if you work for an airline, bank, broadcaster or certain other industries, you have similar coverage under federal law. These laws essentially require your employer to provide any accommodations that would allow you to do your job despite your disability. Some important elements of a workplace accommodation include the following:

  • You must be qualified to do the job and able to perform its key tasks if you have the aid of certain modifications.
  • You do not have to disclose to your employer the nature of your disability, but you may need to supply medical information about how your condition affects your ability to perform your work.
  • The accommodations may include changes in the arrangement of the workspace, additional software, a more flexible schedule or other adjustments.
  • The accommodations you seek should not create an extra burden for your employer or co-workers.

There are limitations on the accommodations you can request. For example, if you ask for modification your employer cannot afford to make and cannot obtain financial support to provide, your employer may deny your request. However, it may be possible that you can work together to find an alternative that would not violate your human rights.

In the event your employer refuses to make what you consider to be reasonable and appropriate accommodations or your employer discriminates against you in other ways because of your disability, you may wish to make a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal. This can be a challenging undertaking, so you would be wise to reach out for legal assistance from a skilled and experienced professional.

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