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I have a disability. What are my rights at work if I have needs related to my disability?

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I have a disability. What are my rights at work if I have needs related to my disability?

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Reviewed: 
September, 2015
Answer

Ontario's human rights laws say that everyone has the right to be treated equally and not be discriminated against at work.

This means that your employer must do what they can to make things fair for you. This could mean doing things differently for you so that you are treated equally. Some people call this "removing barriers" that discriminate against you in a way that goes against your human rights. The legal word for this is "accommodation".

Examples of accommodation

Your employer might have to:

  • modify or change your work area because you have a disability
  • provide software or equipment that you need because you have a disability
  • let you take a leave of absence to get treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • adjust your schedule or your work hours for a period of time while you recover from an injury or get treatment
  • change your job duties to ones that you are able to do

These are all just examples. Accommodation can be different for different people. In each case, it depends on what you need.

If you need accommodation because of human rights, ask for it. Your employer has to try to make things fair for you.

And you have to co-operate with your employer in trying to find and agree on what is reasonable for them to do. It might not be the same as what you asked for.

If you have a union at work, talk to your union representative. The union is usually involved if a union member needs accommodation. Your union and your employer are both responsible for accommodation.

But employers don't have to do things that they can prove will cause them undue hardship. For example, a small company might need more time than a big company to change your work area if:

  • the renovations cost a lot of money, and
  • there is nowhere the company can get funding to help them pay.
Learn more about this topic
Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC)
Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
Mental Health Works
Durham Community Legal Clinic

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