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Posts tagged: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Are All Employment & Labour Lawyers Created Equal?

By , April 4, 2018 8:47 am

Are there many employment & labour lawyers in Ontario?

There are many employment & labour lawyers working in Ontario – especially in large urban centers like Toronto. I go to a Christmas party each year that is attended by about 150 employment & labour lawyers and it is always sold out. Every employment and labour lawyer, however, is unique. Your challenge is to find the lawyer that best suits your needs.

What does an employment lawyer do?

Some lawyers practice a subspecialty within employment law like workers compensation or pay equity. The lawyers at the MacLeod Law Firm are not specialists; we are employment law generalists.

What kind of services does an employment law generalist provide?

Most employment law generalists draft employment contracts and employment related policies and can make sure employee handbooks comply with Ontario’s employment laws.

It will come as no surprise that most employment lawyers advise on employee terminations and draft severance packages. If necessary our lawyers appear in court or at administrative tribunals like the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of our clients.

Helping employers comply with new employment laws has been increasingly important in recent years as the provincial government imposes more and more statutory obligations on employers. The MacLeod Law Firm has a fixed fee service to help employers comply with these new obligations.

Employee protection under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act has been extended in recent years so most employment lawyers have a good understanding of the province’s human rights laws. We provide human rights advice to a myriad of clients each year – especially on an employer’s obligation to accommodate a disabled employee.

Employee protection under the Ontario Health & Safety Act has also been extended in recent years so most employment lawyers can advise on an employer’s obligations under this law. The MacLeod Law Firm  represents employers who have been charged under OHSA.

What is a labour lawyer?

A labour lawyer provides advice and representations to unionized employers.

What kind of services does a labour lawyer provide?

A labour lawyer can recommend that an employer adopt certain practices and policies that will make employees less inclined to want to join a union.

If a union tries to unionize a workforce then a labour lawyer can respond to the Union’s certification application at the Ontario Labour Relations Board on behalf of the employer.

If a union is certified to represent an employer’s workforce then a labour lawyer can negotiate a collective agreement with the Union on behalf of the employer.

If a union files a grievance under a collective agreement then a labour lawyer can represent the employer at an arbitration hearing.

The MacLeod Law Firm provides all of these services to our unionized clients.

The MacLeod Law Firm – Our Value Proposition

We give an employer confidence and peace of mind on employment law and labour law issues because we quickly and competently deal with workplace issues in a way that makes business sense.

We understand that every client has unique legal needs and each client has a different legal risk tolerance. We get to know our clients and their businesses so the advice we give makes business sense.

If you require the services of an employment and labour lawyer and want to see whether the MacLeod Law Firm is a good fit for your organization, please contact our Managing Partner, Doug MacLeod. For over 30 years he has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. You can contact Doug directly at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

 

Is Your Organization Compliant with AODA? It Should Be. Here’s Why

By , November 27, 2017 5:29 pm

Did you know that employers with 20 or more employees are required to file a report with the Ontario government confirming they have complied with their obligations under the Accessibility with Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) by December 31, 2017?

Employment Standard

This regulation under AODA applies to all employers. It  requires an employer to comply with at least nine (9) new obligations such as notifying job applicants that, where needed, accommodations for disabilities will be provided, on request.

Employers with 50 or more employees have two additional obligations including the duty to prepare a written individual accommodation plan for every disabled employee who has requested an accommodation for a disability.

Customer Service

This regulation under AODA requires all employers to, among other things, provide customer service training to employees.

An employer with 50 or more employees is required to prepare written customer service accessibility policies.

Multi Year Accessibility Plan

An employer with 50 or more employees is required to  establish, implement, maintain and document a multi-year accessibility plan. This plan outlines the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation.

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

Many employers are not aware of their obligations under AODA, and have therefore not complied with them, and do not know about the obligation to inform the Ontario government that they have complied with their obligations under AODA by December 31, 2017.

Fixed Fee AODA Compliance Service

The MacLeod Law Firm has developed a fixed fee service that will get an employer into compliance with AODA before the December 31, 2017 reporting deadline. A description of this service is found here

If you have questions about this service, please contact Nadia Halum at [email protected], or Doug MacLeod at 416 317-9894.

For 30 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him directly at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

Restaurant who refuses to serve customer with a service dog ordered to pay $ 2500 in general damages

By , May 31, 2016 9:59 am

Obligations to Train Employees On Human Rights Issues

We often represent employers and employees who have human rights issues. It is a rather complex area of the law, especially cases involving individuals with disabilities. For more blogs on the rights of disabled employees, click here.

An employer has obligations towards disabled employees under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act  (“AODA”) including mandatory training. For more information on an employer’s obligations under AODA, click here.

A recent case illustrates what can happen if an employer doesn’t properly train its employees on human rights issues.

The Facts of the Case

An autistic person, his mother and a service dog were refused service at a restaurant because they wanted the service dog to accompany them. The mother called the police who advised that they could not intervene. The police suggested they call the municipality but they were advised that the municipality could also not intervene and referred them to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre which said they did not have the resources to intervene in the immediate situation, but told them how to file an Application. After calling these places and getting no assistance, they left the restaurant and filed an application under the Code four days later.

The Law

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “Tribunal”) found that autism spectrum disorder is a “disability” within the meaning of the Code

The Tribunal concluded the restaurant did not accommodate the son’s disability and in this regard quoted a section of a regulation under AODA, which states: “If a person with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, the provider of goods or services shall ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and to keep the animal with him or her unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises.”

The responsibility for ensuring that servers are properly trained and aware of the obligations of a service provider rests with the employer and not the employee. Any liability for discrimination done by an employee in the course of the employee’s employment that results in a breach of the Code is that of the employer.

The Decision

The restaurant violated the autistic person’s right to be free from discrimination because of a disability by refusing to permit his service dog to enter the restaurant.

The restaurant was ordered to retain at its cost an expert in human rights to develop a human rights policy.

The restaurant was ordered to pay the son $2,500 as compensation for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect. This case can be contrasted to an earlier decision where a person with a service dog was denied access to a mall for about 5 minutes and was awarded $ 1000 in damages because a mall employee did not understand his right to bring the service dog into the mall. For more information on this case, click here.

Lessons to be Learned:

  1. Many employers have a positive obligation to train employees on human rights issues, particularly under AODA. Failure to train employees can result in an employer being ordered to pay for an employee’s unfamiliarity with the law.
  1. Employers who offer services to the public, like restaurants, are particularly susceptible to human rights claims. Many members of the disabled community are aware of their rights and will enforce them. In this case, the mother told the restaurant staff that her son had the right to bring a service dog into the restaurant before she and her son were denied service.
  1. Employers should participate in the application process under the Code. In this case, the restaurant did not send a representative to the hearing. It is possible that because the adjudicator did not hear both sides of the story the damage award was higher than it would have been otherwise.

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

“The material and information provided on this blog and this website are for general information only and should not, in any respect, be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information linked or referred to or contained herein. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog, without first retaining counsel and obtaining appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.”

Accommodating Disabled Employees: Can an Employee Demand to Work at a Different Workplace?

By , May 3, 2016 9:15 am

Accommodating Disabled Employees

I have written a number of blogs on the challenges associated with accommodating employees with mental disabilities. I have also blogged on the new obligations that were imposed on employers with 50 or more employees earlier this year with respect to disabled employees including the requirement to prepare a written accommodation plan.

Can a Disabled Employee Demand to Be Moved Away from a Co-Worker?

I have been involved in a number of cases where an employee has claimed that he could not work in the same work space as a co-worker for mental health reasons and asked to be moved to a different physical location.

The Case: The Emond v. Treasury Board

In a recent case, an adjudicator concluded that an employer failed to accommodate an employee on long-term disability who requested that she be permitted to work in a different work location than a co-worker for mental health reasons. As a result the adjudicator ordered the employer to move the employee to another of its nearby workplaces, and to compensate the employee for the difference between the amount she received while on long-term disability and her salary due to the employer’s failure to accommodate.

The Facts: The Devil Is In the Details

Did a disability exist? The adjudicator concluded that the employee suffered from emotional stress caused by a co-worker. Although the adjudicator recognized that “stress cannot automatically be associated with a disability or an incapacity,” she concluded that the employee’s medical condition did constitute a disability or an incapacity, thereby triggering the employer’s duty to accommodate.

Was there medical evidence supporting the accommodation request? In the opinions of her general physician and her psychologist, the employee would be capable of returning to work if she was permitted to work in a different workplace than the co-worker. Although the employer suggested that the employee should attempt to return to work on a different floor of the same workplace, both of the treating physicians disagreed. The employer refused to permit the employee to work in a different workplace or from her home. The adjudicator commented that the employer did not call any rebuttal medical evidence nor discredit the employee’s treating physicians.

Lessons to be Learned

  1. Do not refuse an employee request to move work locations for mental health reasons before carefully considering the reason for the request.
  1. Request medical reports in support of the employee’s request. If you are not satisfied with the documentation provided by the employee, send the employee to a physician or disability management consultant of your choosing if you have the right to do so.
  2. Prepare an individual accommodation plan under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
  3. Update your employment contract if your organization does not have the right to send a disabled employee to a doctor of the employer’s choosing.
  1. Maintain regular contact with the disabled employee and update the individual accommodation plan as needed.

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

 

“The material and information provided on this blog and this website are for general information only and should not, in any respect, be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information linked or referred to or contained herein. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog, without first retaining counsel and obtaining appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.”

Requiring a Person with a Service Animal to Wait at a Mall Entrance for Four Minutes Costs Mall Owner $ 1000

By , October 22, 2015 10:15 am

Requiring a Person with a Service Animal to Wait at a Mall Entrance for Four Minutes Costs Mall Owner $ 1000

A Vice-Chair of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) in Sprague v RioCan Empress Walk recently ordered RioCan to pay a lawyer with a service dog $ 1000 in damages for making him wait four minutes before he was permitted to enter a mall. A newly hired security guard apparently did not know the lawyer had the right to enter the mall with his service dog.

Before determining the quantum of damages for injury to the lawyer’s dignity, feelings and self-respect, the Vice-Chair reviewed prior cases involving service animals or guide dogs. The damage awards were between $ 200 and $ 15 000.

When ordering RioCan to pay the lawyer $ 1000 in damages, the adjudicator noted that: the lawyer was with his wife who was 37 weeks pregnant and she experienced physical discomfort because of the wait; the guard was abrupt and rude; and, the lawyer spent much of their “date night” preparing his application to the OHRT.

Lessons to be learned

  1. Service providers are required to train their employees under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Under this law: “If a person with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, the provider of goods or services shall ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and to keep the animal with him or her unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises.”
  1. Service providers should make sure that employees who deal with the public are properly trained and are aware of this law.
  1. Larger employers may pay larger damage awards than smaller employers. In this regard, the Vice-Chair wrote: In my view, it is of further significance that the respondent in this case is very large undertaking. Unlike small establishments…., the respondent was well aware of the service animal provisions in the AODA. As a large employer, it has been required to develop a plan to implement the AODA requirements and to develop appropriate policies. In this case, the evidence suggests that the respondent or its agents failed to ensure that the security guard was fully trained and aware of these policies.”

 

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on Ontario’s employment and human rights laws. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected]

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