Legal News

Disabled employee dismissed after failing to cooperate in accommodation efforts

An employee’s lack of cooperation with his employer’s efforts to accommodate his disability justified his dismissal, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has held.

The complainant had a history of wrist injuries caused by both heavy and light duties. Eventually, he became eligible for long-term disability benefits, which he received for two years. During this time, he underwent surgery to his left hand for carpal tunnel syndrome. Evidence indicated that the surgery was unsuccessful.

The employer made several efforts to accommodate the complainant’s return to work. It offered him a telephone-sales position which he refused. The employee claimed he had completely recovered and was fit to return to his heavy duties in the warehouse. The employer, concerned about his ability to complete heavy-lifting tasks, arranged a functional capability assessment. The employee did not wish to attend the assessment and when the Employer insisted he attend, he became verbally abusive.

The employer dismissed the employee, who subsequently filed a complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability under section 13 of the Human Rights Code.

In dismissing the complaint, the Tribunal noted that the accommodation process is one in which everyone involved must work together toward a solution. It found that while the employer had the duty to accommodate the complainant’s disability to the point of undue hardship, the behaviour of the employee had frustrated the employer’s efforts in achieving a reasonable accommodation.

Miremadi v. Pepsi Bottling Group (Canada), Co., 2005 BCHRT 261