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Accommodating Disabilities in The Canadian Workplace

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: Michael Lynk is a professor of law at the University of Western Ontario. The article set out below is a summary of information presented by Professor Lynk at his presentation given to the Public Service Alliance of Canada in September, 1999. The footnotes from Professor Lynk's article have been removed from this publication.

I. The Employer's Duty to Accommodate

The essence of the duty is simple to state: Employers in Canada are required to make every reasonable effort, short of an undue hardship, to find an accommodation for an employee with a disability. Its outer boundaries, however, are much harder to determine. But this much is clear to date: The duty requires more from the employer than simply investigating whether any existing job might be suitable for a disabled employee. Rather, the employer is expected to determine whether other positions in the workplace are suitable for the employee or if existing positions can be adjusted, adapted or modified for the employee.

This responsibility requires the employer to look at all other possible positions. Recent cases have said that the employer's accommodation efforts must be "serious", "conscientious", and it must demonstrate its "best efforts". Consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada's direction in O'Malley, Central Alberta Dairy Pool, and Renaud, the initial burden is upon the employer to reasonably accommodate the employee's mental or physical disability.

To prove that its accommodation efforts were serious and conscientious, an employer by law is required to engage in a three step process:

First, determine if the employee can perform his or her existing job as it is. If the employee cannot, then determine if he or she can perform his or her existing job with modifications. If the employee cannot, then determine if he or she can perform another job in its existing, modified or "re-bundled" form.

A. The Extent of the Employer's Duty

The considerable weight that the duty places upon the employer is demonstrated in a recent award from Alberta. In Calgary District Hospital Group, a nurse with a back-related injury was preparing to return to work. Her back injury had left her unable to perform several key aspects of her regular position, including the lifting and transferring of patients. The employer had determined that because of her physical limitations, it was unable to place her into another nursing position. The union maintained that the hospital had not examined ways to re-arrange the nursing positions in order to find an accommodation.

The arbitration board agreed with the union. It found that although the nurse was unable to perform the duties of any of the nursing positions as they were currently structured, the employer had not taken the additional step of determining whether any nursing position could be modified to accommodate her. In its award, the board said it is not sufficient for the employer to show that its employee could not perform any of the current job descriptions. It must also be able to show that the job descriptions cannot be altered without undue hardship:

"The duty to accommodate requires more than determining that an employee cannot perform existing jobs. Having determined that the grievor could not perform any existing job, the employer was obligated to turn its attention to whether, and in what manner, existing nursing jobs could have been adjusted, modified or adapted short of undue hardship to the hospital in order to enable the grievor to return to work despite her physical limitations."

As part of the remedy, the board ordered the hospital to "conduct a thorough examination of its work place in order to ascertain how, without incurring undue hardship, it can adapt or modify a nursing job (or jobs) so that the grievor's physical disability can be accommodated."

Other recent labour arbitration awards have reinforced this point. In Re Greater Niagara General Hospital, the arbitration board ordered the employer to re-examine existing positions in a nursing unit to determine if they could be re-structured into a new "bundle of duties" that would allow the grievor, a nurse, to work within the limitations of her permanent back injury. That is, the hospital was required to determine if those lighter duties performed by all nurses in the unit could be re-assembled into a specific light-duty position for the grievor. As the board acknowledged, this form of accommodation could only work in a larger workplace, where there are enough employees to allow such a re-bundling and yet, not unduly burden these other employees with only heavy tasks in their own re-assembled positions.

The particular obligation of employers who operate larger workplaces is illustrated in Re T.T.C. Bottling Ltd. The employee, a quality control inspector who worked with acids and caustics, suffered from severe epileptic seizures. Several had occurred in close succession at work. With the available medical evidence indicating that future severe seizures were unavoidable, the employer terminated the employee for safety reasons. The arbitrator accepted that the continued employment of the employee in his regular position created an unacceptable safety risk to the grievor and to other employees as well. Nevertheless, the arbitrator was satisfied that the size of the operations would allow the grievor to be accommodated in a different, re-designed job, with a regular rather than a rotating shift, and special training arrangements for other employees to work around the employee, among other conditions.

The employer's obligation to accommodate includes the provision of training to the employee, provided that the costs of such training would not amount to an undue hardship. In Re York County Hospital, the grievor, a nurse, was unable to return to her full nursing duties after suffering a work-related injury. The employer wanted to place her in a part-time clerical position, but the grievor aspired to become an educator with the hospital, which would have required training. The arbitration board ruled for the union, deciding that the clerical position was not the only available accommodation possible for the employee:

"We accept that the grievor received very little, if any, training. In retrospect, and in view of the grievor's present career goals, it would have been prudent for the employer to have arranged for training in the education department."

Arbitrator Richard Brown, in Re Mount Sinai Hospital, has laid out the governing principles of the employer's duty to accommodate. These principles re-state, in a more concise form, the essence of the recent Supreme Court judgements:

"The duty to accommodate derives from the right to equal treatment under the Ontario Human Rights Code. That duty includes "not only the duties and requirements associated with current jobs but also the duties and requirements associated with a bundle of existing tasks within the ability of a disabled employee."

The undue hardship test, which, if applicable, relieves the employer from accommodation requirements, requires the employer to do more than bear trivial or de minimus costs to accommodate the needs of a disabled employee.

Whether accommodation would amount to undue hardship entails a spectrum of considerations, including, but not limited to: (i) financial cost, (ii) disruption of a collective agreement, (iii) problems of morale of other employees, (iv) the interchangeability of the workforce and facilities, (v) safety, and (vi) the size of the operations.

The costs of accommodation should be compared with the resulting benefits in deciding whether the hardship caused by accommodation is "undue". The results of this comparison will vary from case to case.

The employer bears the burden of proving that the accommodative measures would amount to undue hardship.

B. Boundaries on the Employer's Duty to Accommodate

The duty to accommodate in Canadian labour law is not limitless. Arbitrators and the reviewing courts have recognised that accommodation always requires a balancing act between two underlying issues: the right of an employee with a disability to equal treatment, and the right of an employer to operate a productive workplace. The employer is not required to accommodate where undue hardship would result, nor is it obligated to create an unproductive position. In any permanent accommodation circumstance, an employee has to be able to perform the essential job duties of the existing or re-structured or newly-assigned position.

This was illustrated in the recent decision of the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) in Holmes v. Attorney General of Canada. A pay clerk working for the federal government developed severe numbness and pain in her right shoulder, making it difficult to perform her duties. Other assignments as a receptionist and a special project clerk proved to be too demanding for her physical limitations. All of the other positions that the employer identified within her skill level required the use of the same, damaged muscles. It eventually determined that she could not perform the essential components of her job duties, nor could she be retrained. Consequently, the employer released her. The arbitration tribunal denied the grievance, and the FCA upheld the release on judicial review. In its award, it stated that the undue hardship standard:

"does not require that an employer act as a placement officer or create a new position expressly for the disabled employee comprising new duties that were previously non-existent and that do not suit its need."

The Federal Court of Appeal went on to say: "The employer's obligation is to make a genuine effort to accommodate an employee, efforts that are consistent with the type of work for which the worker was hired."

Other recent decisions have illustrated the underlying rule of preserving the employer's ability to operate a productive workplace. In Re Greater Niagara General Hospital, the arbitration board ruled that while the employer had to consider the accommodation of an employee with a disability in another position other than her or his former duties, this did not entail the creation of an entirely new position. Similarly, in Re Maple Leaf Foods Inc., it was held that, while employers must try to accommodate employees, this does not mean the work place must be fundamentally changed. The employer is not required to maintain a disabled employee in a position that is not useful or productive in the context of its operations.

Arbitrator Allan Hope in Re Alcan Smelters and Chemicals Ltd. clarified the right of an employer to discharge an employee for innocent absenteeism, in light of the new accommodation duty. He stated that an employer is entitled to terminate where the evidence demonstrates that at the time of her or his dismissal, the employee was: (i) unable to meet her or his employment obligations; (ii) unable to offer any persuasive medical assurance that s/he would be able to meet these obligations at some predictable point in the near future, and (iii) no accommodation short of undue hardship was possible in any other position in the employer's operations. In Re Canada Post Corp., the arbitration board ruled that the duty might require an employer to offer modified duties (i.e., part-time or light duties) as part of a rehabilitation or work-hardening program. However, depending on the undue hardship factors, it might not be required to offer these same duties where it is a matter of accommodating an employee on a permanent basis. And in Re Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, the issue was whether the employer could place the employee in a lower-paid position as part of the accommodation. Arbitrator Kevin Burkett decided that an employee who cannot perform the essential duties of his or her job, even with accommodation, can be properly placed into a lower-classified and more poorly paid position, as long as it is consistent with the employee's medical restrictions and the employer's operational needs. Employees with a long-term disability present the most challenging accommodation problems. But arbitrators in Canada have been clear that employers are not required to provide an accommodation to an employee who cannot perform the essential duties of an available position and whose disability offers no foreseeable improvement. In Re Calgary Herald a maintenance technician suffering from a chronic fatigue syndrome was unable to return to full-time work. The employer had arranged for the employee to work on modified duties on a part-time basis. He was unable to work beyond 3 hours a day, he was unable to train for another position, stress aggravated his condition, and he was unable to meet the physical requirements of pulling cable, an essential feature of his duties. The available medical evidence indicated that he would not be able to perform the duties of even a part-time maintenance technician on a reliable basis, and there was no reasonable likelihood of improvement. In dismissing the union grievance, the arbitration board held that:

"The duty to accommodate does not require an employer to create a new job or one that is not productive or one that has the core duties removed."

Is an employer required to accommodate an employee whose disability has led to a major workplace incident? Arbitrator Owen Shime has recently said no. In Toronto Transit Commission, a bus driver consumed several beers shortly before resuming a shift. He subsequently drove the bus into the back of a garbage truck, injuring himself and several bus passengers. After the accident, the driver revealed that he was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is recognised as a handicap under the Human Rights Code. Nevertheless, Arbitrator Shime ultimately dismissed the driver's grievance, ruling that the Code is not intended as a protective device for employees who commit major employment offences:

"While there is an obligation, under the Human Rights Code, to accommodate employees who suffer from an illness, clearly such an accommodation does not mandate that such an employee be protected or be absolved from major employment offences merely because of that illness. The grievor, because of his illness, cannot be placed in a better position than other employees who commit similar offences."

(C) Some Specific Circumstances

(i) Automatic Termination Provisions: Are They Consistent With Human Rights Legislation?

The answer from arbitrators and the reviewing courts has been pre-dominantly no. This issue arises in situations where a collective agreement or an employment contract provision provides that an employee loses her or his job, even if for non-blameworthy reasons, if they are absent for a pre-established period (usually 12 or 24 months). These provisions have regularly been found to be a form of indirect discrimination (a workplace rule that is neutral on its face, but has a discriminatory effect).

The Ontario Court, General Division ruled in 1997 in Toronto Star Ltd. v. CEP and Backhouse on a judicial review of an arbitration award that an automatic termination provision (in this case, a 2- year clause) was ineffectual as it pertained to disabled employees because it conflicted with the Ontario Human Rights Code. It noted that the provision made no reference as to whether the employee could perform any other job that may be available aside from her or his former position. Nor did it require the employer to consider whether any action short of termination was possible. The Court upheld the arbitrator's ruling that the disabled employee had been treated differently than other employees, and that the difference was based solely upon his disability, a protected ground under the Code:

"Those other employees are entitled to the benefit of the standard of "just cause" for termination, which entitles an employee to test the employer's application of that standard at arbitration, bringing to bear all of the established principles and policies applicable to innocent absenteeism in general."

The grievor, on the other hand, was subject to automatic termination due to his innocent absence as a result of a handicap. Accordingly, under the automatic termination provisions, he does not have the same right as other employees to challenge his termination within the standard of proper cause. In my view, that must be deemed unequal or different treatment from that of the majority of the bargaining unit employees with respect to his employment.

Similarly, in Re Toronto Hospital, the arbitration board nullified the effect of an automatic termination provision in circumstances involving an employee who was off work with a disability. In its judgement, the board wrote:

"... where the very reason why the grievor was absent, and thus the very reason why the grievor was subject to automatic termination under art. 10.05(h) is because she suffered a work-related injury. She was absent from work because she had a work-related injury. She was terminated because she was absent from work."

This approach, however, is not without controversy. Several recent arbitration decisions have held that a release from employment based upon an automatic termination clause, where the grievor was unable to perform the essential duties at the trigger moment of the clause, is valid. In Re Uniroyal Goodrich Canada Inc., the arbitrator disagreed with the trend expressed in Re Toronto Hospital, stating that:

"The foundation of the company's case is that there is no longer an employment relationship because the grievor is not fulfilling his part of the employment contract which is to attend for work. In that context, there is no logic or reason to require the standard of just cause because it is simply inapplicable."

However, as the case law on this issue accumulates, the direction taken in Uniroyal Goodrich looks increasingly anomalous. The prevailing approach has been to strike down the mechanistic application of automatic termination provisions in disability cases, because they are deemed to treat employees with disabilities differently from other employees in the bargaining unit who have recourse to the grievance procedure to challenge a termination on "just cause" grounds.

(ii) Accommodation and the Calculation of Seniority

Recent decisions have grappled with the difficult balance between disability and seniority rights. On the one hand, the reviewing courts, labour arbitrators and human rights tribunals have all regularly ruled that a disabled employee must not be disadvantaged in the calculation of seniority because of her or his absence from work due to illness or injury. On the other hand, arbitrators have not generally granted "super-seniority" rights to disabled employees, so as to allow them a greater claim to work than more senior employees. In other words, an employee with a disability must be accorded equal treatment despite her or his condition, not superior treatment because of the condition.

(ii)(a) Service Calculation and Indirect Discrimination

The law on the eligibility of an employee's entitlement to accrue both seniority rights and benefit rights while off work because of a disability is presently in a state of flux. A number of decisions over the past five years by the courts, labour arbitrators and human rights tribunals have come to different, and sometimes quite opposite, conclusions. However, the thrust of the most recent decisions suggests that two rules are in operation: (i) that an employee's seniority accumulates during time away from work because of a disability; while (ii) an employee off work as a result of a disability does not have entitlement to employment benefits (unless the collective agreement or company policy otherwise provides for this).

A number of earlier decisions ruled that work days lost because of a disability cannot adversely affect an employee's benefit rights that accumulate with growing seniority, despite the limiting language in a collective agreement. In Re Riverdale Hospital, the grievor suffered a work-related injury and missed 9 weeks of work. The collective agreement stated that seniority would not accrue if the employee was on an unpaid leave for more than 30 consecutive calendar days. When the grievor returned to work, the employer informed him that his seniority date would be negatively adjusted by 38 calendar days as a result of his absence. Consequently, it took him a year of service longer to qualify for an additional year of vacation, and he grieved the employer's application of the collective agreement provision.

The arbitration board applied its authority to interpret the Ontario Human Rights Code, as provided for in section 48(12)(j) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995. After examining the seniority provisions of the collective agreement, it concluded that the denial of seniority accumulation while off work for disability reasons was a form of indirect discrimination, and therefore a breach of the Code. Since the grievor's absence was due to a disability, he was being treated differently, and adversely, in comparison to other, non-disabled employees. Thus, the seniority provisions "constituted inequality in treatment with respect to employment." The grievor's seniority was ordered to be re-adjusted, and his vacation entitlement was enhanced. In reaching its decision, the arbitration board adopted the reasoning of an earlier award on the same issue:

"The employer's policy on attendance could be said to be neutral on its face in that it does not take into account the reason for absence. Its concern is the absence per se. However, in its application it is not neutral because it has an adverse impact on a group protected by the Code, i.e., those who suffer compensable injuries or disabilities. The result of the rule is that such persons are denied rights which they otherwise would have enjoyed."

This became the ascendant view among some labour arbitrators and human rights tribunals. In Thompson v. Fleetwood Ambulance Service, an explicit collective agreement provision that pro-rated the vacation entitlement of employees based on work attendance was nullified in cases where it reduced the vacations of employees absent from work due to a disability. Similarly, an Ontario human rights board of inquiry ruled in Thorne v. Emerson Electric Canada Ltd. that a collective agreement provision which froze seniority accumulation during a disability-caused absence was a violation of the Human Rights Code. And discrimination has been found in a number of recent decisions involving disabled employees whose employment benefits such as vacation pay, severance pay, or seniority entitlement were reduced because of collective agreement requirements for work attendance to earn the entitlements.

However, the courts and some arbitrators have more recently drawn a line between a disabled employee's ability to accrue seniority while off work, and the employer's obligation to pay for benefit premiums while an employee is on disability leave. In two important arbitration decisions, Versa Services Ltd. and Soldier's Memorial Hospital, arbitration boards have taken a more cautious approach to applying the Human Rights Code to employment benefits. In both cases, the boards ruled that access to employment benefits while on sick leave is earned by service and negotiations. Denial of these benefits while on disability leave is not discriminatory, unless employees on other forms of leave such as an educational leave or a secondment are also entitled to these benefits. There is still no legal consensus on this issue, and it will likely remain contentious for some time to come.

(ii) (b) Accommodation, Seniority and Bumping

Recent awards have stated that a disability does not entitle an employee with an illness or injury to displace an incumbent, despite having greater seniority, unless the collective agreement specifically permits such bumping. On the issue of whether the seniority provisions of a collective agreement can be overridden so as to give a disabled employee a greater claim to work than more senior employees, the dust is still settling. However, the prevailing view is that seniority is a cornerstone of any collective agreement, and cannot be interfered with lightly.

In Re National Steel Car Ltd. the issue was whether the grievor, a steel fabricator, was unjustly laid off as a result of the employer's failure to accommodate him. After suffering from a serious injury to his elbow and unable to work as a fabricator, the grievor was permanently accommodated in a janitorial position. Subsequently, he was laid off by seniority during a major company downsizing. The union argued that the employer failed to provide the grievor with modified jobs out of seniority.

The arbitrator found no discrimination. He noted that the employer had determined that the grievor was in the only job he was capable of performing. More importantly for our purposes, he ruled that the duty to accommodate does not require the employer to displace an incumbent employee. "A disabled employee is entitled to equal treatment, despite the disability, not better treatment because of it."

Similarly in Re Royal Oak Mines Inc., a case involving an injured employee's attempt to find an alternative to his former position that he could no longer perform, the arbitrator ruled that:

"I do not believe that the parties intended to give incapacitated employees the right to exercise seniority to bump junior employees from their jobs which they acquired through the posting system."

Nor have arbitrators allowed grievances where employees seeking an accommodation have requested the opportunity to bump more senior employees. Seniority is considered a prized employee right and only very clear collective agreement language would permit an override. In Re Metropolitan Toronto, the arbitration board held that the duty to accommodate does not provide an injured employee with super seniority. As well, in Re Greater Niagara Regional Hospital, a union successfully argued that, while a disabled employee from another bargaining unit could fill a vacancy in its unit, she could not carry over her competitive seniority and thereby gain greater job security than other employees in the unit. And in Re Bayer Rubber Inc., a junior disabled employee could not bump a more senior employee from his position, unless the employer had first conducted a thorough review of the workplace and could come up with no other reasonable accommodations.

In sum, the duty to accommodate does not usually extend to permitting an employee with a disability to bump an incumbent from her or his position, but it could allow a disabled employee to be placed in a vacant position, even though she or he had less seniority, skill and ability than another employee.

(iii) Does an Employer Have to Provide a Full-time, Light Duties Position to a Disabled Employee?

The best answer to this is: it depends upon how much undue hardship would result. If the employer runs a large enough operation that it could "re-bundle" or re-structure the existing jobs to create a permanent accommodation of non-demanding duties to an employee, without causing exorbitant costs or a disruption to its workplace operations, then the duty would require this to be done.

However, where the employer is small and can demonstrate that it has explored every available, reasonable step, and there were no full-time, permanent positions either existing or restructured that would provide an accommodation for the employee within her or his limitations short of undue hardship, then the duty will usually demand no more. In Edgell v. Board of School Trustees, District No. 11, the employer had accepted the grievor's lengthy medical absences without prejudice to her job status or seniority; requested information from her doctor regarding her capacities; modified her job duties; met with the grievor and the union to discuss options; allowed her to work a temporary 4-hour modified shift; hired extra people to fulfil the duties that the grievor was unable to perform; permitted her to work 8 hours of light duty during the summer months; investigated the possibility of restructuring the custodial duties; and considered the grievor for other jobs. The employer did not unilaterally restructure the custodial duties to provide the grievor with 8 hours of light work because this would have meant, in light of the small custodial staff, that some other employee would have had to perform nearly 8 hours of heavy duties. In the circumstances, the British Columbia Council of Human Rights found that this would amount to a "significant interference" with the rights of other employees, and held that the employer had met its accommodation duty.

Similarly, in Community Unemployed Help Centre, an employee was terminated because of her ongoing absences due to illness. The employer was small, its resources were limited and the lengthy and frequent absences had caused a serious negative impact upon the other staff. Arbitrator Freedman found that the point of undue hardship had been reached, and the employee's dismissal was upheld at arbitration.

(iv) Counselling for Attendance

What are the employer's obligations regarding the counselling of an employee with a disability about attendance requirements? The law clearly requires employers to counsel and warn employees that their level of absenteeism is reaching a point where non-culpable dismissal is a possibility. The failure by an employer to warn an employee that her or his absence was excessive nullified a termination in a recent case, even though the grievor had no reasonable prospects for a return to active employment in the foreseeable future.

When an employer warns an employee at an early stage about innocent absenteeism, does that constitute discrimination or discipline? Recent awards say no. In Re City of Oshawa, the issue was whether an initial counselling letter bringing the attendance concerns of the employer to the employee's attention was justified under the collective agreement. The employer's letter focused upon the high number of work days that the employee had missed due to a WCB injury. The arbitrator said that such counselling is non-disciplinary, and cannot be challenged under the "just cause" provisions. Furthermore, the counselling would not offend the Ontario Human Rights Code, where it was coupled with an exploration for whether accommodation was required. In such circumstances, the arbitrator said, a counselling letter may be of assistance in encouraging an employee to take greater precautions with respect to disabling injuries or to develop a greater tolerance for minor pain.

(v) Disability Discovered Only After Termination

On occasion, an employer, and even an employee, will be unaware of the prevalence of a disability until after the employee's termination for apparently culpable reasons. While the duty upon an employer to accommodate is not triggered until the employee notifies the employer of the need, the duty remains alive even if the notification does not occur until after the termination.

In Re Ottawa Civic Hospital, the employer only learned of the grievor's drug and alcohol dependency after terminating her for excessive absenteeism. The arbitration board ruled that: "Even if the [Human Rights] Code does not apply to a dismissal which occurred before a handicap is known, this legislation would apply to a refusal to reinstate the complainant once the disability has been revealed." Similarly, in Re Canada Safeway Ltd., medical information about the mental disability of a terminated employee was provided to the employer only after the dismissal. He had been fired following a long history of poor performance, lack of response to criticism, and baffling behaviour. Just before the commencement of the arbitration hearing, almost two years later, the employee was diagnosed as suffering from controllable schizophrenia. In its award, the arbitration board ruled that the employer had cause at the time of the termination to suspect a mental illness. Since the illness was controllable, it directed that the employee be reinstated, subject to specific conditions, and without back pay:

"We believe that it would be unjust to allow an employer to dismiss a blameless employee who has the capacity to do some bargaining unit job. As we see it, this work rule will not jeopardise the productive capabilities of the workplace. At the same time, it recognises that an employee whose shortcomings are not attributable to unsatisfactory work choices will have employment tenure of a kind different from those who intentionally or carelessly harm employer interests."

In 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in Cie Miniere Quebec Cartier v. Quebec that a Quebec arbitrator had exceeded his jurisdiction by admitting post-discharge evidence in the course of annulling the dismissal of an employee with an alcohol abuse problem. The initial reaction among Canadian labour arbitrators was that Quebec Cartier had overturned two decades of arbitral case law which had allowed post-discharge evidence to be considered in appropriate cases. However, most arbitrators faced with the issue after Quebec Cartier have distinguished the Supreme Court's judgement as being confined to the particular wording of Quebec labour legislation. Thus, the availability of post-discharge evidence in alcohol and drug abuse cases, as well as in the post-termination revelation of a disability, appears to remain in place.

(vi) What Kind of Medical Evidence Can an Employer Require?

When an employee requests an accommodation, the adequacy of the medical diagnosis is sometimes in question. The employer is entitled to request, and receive, an adequate diagnosis concerning the employee's fitness from his or her physician. Otherwise, the employer is not in a position to assess the employee's accommodation needs.

When an employee returns to the workplace after an injury or illness, s/he bears the initial onus to prove that s/he is medically fit to perform. Once this has been provided, the onus shifts to the employer to establish that the employee is not medically fit. In Kautex Corp., Arbitrator Brent stated that if the employer has legitimate concerns about the medical evidence presented by the employee, it is entitled to require further and better diagnosis.

In Brimacombe v. Northland Road Services Ltd., a heavy equipment mechanic experienced dizziness and fatigue. The employer did not have a light-duty position to offer him, no conclusive diagnosis was made about his condition and he spent 20 months off work. The mechanic eventually filed a human rights complaint, arguing that the company had discriminated against him for the 20 month period. The British Columbia Human Rights Council dismissed the complaint. It ruled that in the absence of a conclusive diagnosis, it would have been too difficult for the employer to accommodate him to suit his medical condition. Without knowing the nature of his illness, the employer could not properly assess his capabilities and limitations.

If an employee wishes to call psychiatric evidence in support of his or her reliance on mental illness, a recent arbitration ruling has stated that the employer is entitled to have the employee also examined by a psychiatrist of its choosing. In Canada Post, Arbitrator Burkett stated that in order to allow a fair hearing to the employer, it must be able to present its own informed medical expert. Otherwise, the employee's psychiatric evidence could go untested because of the employer's inability to effectively cross-examine or to call contrary evidence.

However, employees with psychiatric illnesses may have a lesser obligation to provide a medical diagnosis, at least at the most acute phases of his or her disability. Because the mental disability sometimes interferes with the employee's ability to comprehend instructions and situations, arbitrators and human rights tribunals have ruled that the failure to provide medical diagnosis in these circumstances would not disentitle the employee to accommodation or the protection of human rights legislation.

(vii) Last-Chance Agreements

When employees are exhibiting problematic work behaviour such as serious absenteeism, or drug or alcohol use, unions and employers will sometimes sign a "last-chance agreement". These agreements take many shapes, but they usually state that if there is any repetition of the problematic behaviour, the employee is automatically dismissed and there is no right to grieve or arbitrate the firing.

In light of the coverage by human rights legislation of employees who suffer from depression or substance abuse, and whose problematic behaviour can be linked to their disability, are these last-chance agreements always valid? Recent decisions state that accommodation concerns will sometimes override last-chance agreements.

In Fantom Technologies Inc., an employee with a drug and alcohol addiction was required to take substance abuse treatment under a last-chance agreement. As well, any further lateness or absences would be grounds for termination, without any right to grieve. The employee was subsequently late and absent on several occasions, and, pursuant to the agreement, he was fired. Arbitrator Beck held that both the last-chance condition and the cannot-grieve clause were discriminatory, and therefore invalid:

"... a condition was imposed upon [the employee] because of his handicap, which subjected him to a review process particular to him, and not imposed upon his fellow employees. And the fact that he agreed to it, and was advised by his union in doing so, does not render the [last-chance] Agreement any less unenforceable." The employee was ordered to be returned to work. The arbitrator noted that the employer had not presented any evidence that the employee's absenteeism was so bad that it could no longer be tolerated, short of undue hardship, by the employer.

In AFG Industries Ltd., an earlier decision by Arbitrator Beck on the same issue, he ruled that, to establish evidence of undue hardship, the employer would have to show that the employee's absences were costly, were disruptive to its schedule, had a significant impact upon other employees, or otherwise created legitimate safety concerns.

The decision in Fantom Technologies Inc. follows several recent decisions by the Ontario Divisional Court. In both Gaines Pet Foods and O.P.E.S.U. v. Ontario (Ministry of Community and Social Services), the Court refused to enforce last-chance agreements involving employees with disabilities, where the employer had not otherwise proven that it could not accommodate the employee short of undue hardship.

Two key points emerge from these cases. First, neither employers nor unions can contract out of human rights legislation. A last-chance agreement that requires a right conferred by a human rights code to be abandoned will be unenforceable. And second, an employee with both a disability and with an absenteeism problem may still be released from work, if (a) the absenteeism causes undue hardship to the employer and (b) there is no reasonable prospect for reliable attendance at work in the future.

(viii) Mental and Psychological Disabilities

Mental disabilities present among the greatest accommodation challenges to both employers and unions. These disabilities come in many varieties, they are often difficult to detect and assess and employees are usually reluctant to reveal them because of the enormous social stigma.

Where an employee's capacity for rational judgement is impaired by a mental disability, human rights tribunals and arbitrators have placed a higher onus on employers and unions to accommodate the employee. The fact that the employee did not disclose the mental disability when s/he was hired, did not provide the employer with a medical diagnosis while in the throes of the illness, or did not disclose the mental illness until two years after being terminated does not necessarily disentitle him or her to an accommodation. Where the illness causes erratic behaviour at work, recent rulings have said that the employer in some cases ought to have been aware of a link between the work problems and the employee's condition. In Allbright Cleaners Ltd., the employee had been hospitalised for depression, and a distinct change in her behaviour had been observed by the employer. The human rights tribunal found that it was already apparent to the employer, when it dismissed her, that she was suffering from a mental disability. Instead of firing her, the employer should have sought to accommodate her. The tribunal upheld the employee's complaint.

Unions also face a particular responsibility when representing employees who suffer from a mental disability: K.H. v. CEP, Local 1-S and Sasktel. This is discussed in the next section.

In a related case, where an employee's uncooperative work attitude is directly linked to a disability, a human rights tribunal has upheld her complaint that her firing was a discriminatory act. In Keeping v. Royal City Jewellers & Loans Ltd., the employee had requested frequent rest breaks because of her back pain, and to take her medication. Her doctor had confirmed her back problems in a note, but had not clarified her need for particular rest periods. The employer refused one of her rest requests because the store was busy. When she repeated her request, the employer fired her. The human rights tribunal ruled that her poor attitude and ordinary work record did not remove her from the protection of the Human Rights Code. Her back problems were a disability, and the employer failed to accommodate this impairment. However, because her lacklustre work performance would have soon caused her dismissal in any event, the tribunal only granted her a small monetary remedy.

II. The Role of the Union

In Renaud, the Supreme Court of Canada clearly stated that a union has a joint responsibility with an employer to accommodate those employees protected by human rights legislation. Like an employer, a union cannot rely upon a collective agreement provision to escape its accommodation responsibilities. However, also like an employer, a union can refuse a proposed accommodation if the consequences would result in an undue hardship.

(A) Liability for Discriminatory Provisions

A recent labour arbitration award has stated that if a collective agreement provision unreasonably blocks an accommodation, the agreement might have to be modified. However, a union may not share the employer's liability if it can show that it had opposed the inclusion of the disputed provision during negotiations. In Re Ministry of Health and OPSEU (Pazuk), the collective agreement expressly provided that, for the purpose of determining severance pay entitlement, an employee's continuous service was not to include any period when an employee was receiving long-term disability payments. (The grievor had been on long-term disability for almost 10 years, and sought to have this time credited as service for the purposes of severance pay).

In its decision, the Ontario Grievance Settlement Board found that this provision constituted indirect discrimination, and the employer was directed to include the grievor's Ltd. period for the purpose of severance pay calculation. A unique feature of this case was that, because the union had attempted in bargaining to amend the provision in order to comply with human rights legislation, the arbitration board did not find the union was jointly liable for the grievor's loss, even though the union was a signatory to the offending clause. This case suggests a move away from a strict determination in earlier decisions that a union's agreement to an offending provision will invariably result in a joint finding of liability against the union for losses suffered by the complaining employee. However, if a union has displayed an unwillingness to change the offending collective agreement provision despite the employer's urgings, it may still be found jointly liable.

Other decisions have stated that a union clears itself of human rights liability where it can show that it had taken the initiative to propose alternative solutions to a difficult accommodation, and would be willing to waive parts of the collective agreement in ways that would not disrupt the rights of other employees. In Drager v. IAM, a human rights tribunal ruled that although a union had participated in the formulation of a discriminatory clause in the collective agreement, it would not find it liable because the union had shown flexibility regarding seniority and shift rights. Similarly, in Thompson v. Fleetwood Ambulance Service, a human rights board held that the union's efforts over the years to remove the discriminatory provisions (concerning restrictions on vacation pay entitlement) were sufficient to absolve it of any liability.

However, a recent ruling indicates that a union's representation responsibilities towards a member with a disability may well be more onerous than under the conventional application of a union's duty for fair representation. In K.H. v. CEP, Local 1-S and Sasktel, a union member suffering from a depression was fired for his inability to follow management orders and to get along with his fellow employees. The union filed a number of grievances on his behalf, but dropped the matter before going to arbitration. K.H. claimed that the union breached its duty to fairly represent him, and the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board upheld the complaint. While the Board found that the union may have handled the grievances diligently "from the point of view of the normal operation of the grievance procedure", it concluded that, overall, the union had:

"... failed to take sufficient account of the [mental] disability experienced by K.H., and that they therefore discriminated against him in handling his grievance." The Saskatchewan Board emphasised that, while representing members with a mental disability may present a particular challenge to a union, it also placed a higher onus upon the union to ensure that the unique features of these members' disabilities are not disregarded through inadvertent workplace discrimination.

(B) Seniority

What accommodation must a union provide when its seniority provisions are under review? While the law is not consistent in this area, the majority view of labour arbitrators is that seniority is an important job interest. Accordingly, the seniority rights in a collective agreement can only be overridden where no other accommodation option, short of undue hardship, was possible.

In Re Greater Niagara Regional Hospital, a registered practical nurse whose back disability prevented her from resuming her essential duties required a less physically demanding position that could only be found in another bargaining unit. The hospital trained her as a clerk, and assigned her to a vacancy in the clerical bargaining unit. This unit had a separate collective agreement and a separate seniority list from the practical nursing unit. While the union local representing the clerical unit did not object to her assignment, it did protest against the full transfer of her accumulated seniority from the nursing unit. The arbitration board upheld the union's protest, ruling that the transfer of the disabled employee's full seniority would adversely affect the seniority and job security of the other clerical employees at a time of impending lay-offs in the health sector. This, it stated, would amount to a "significant interference" in their rights, the standard set by the Supreme Court of Canada in Renaud.

A second, more recent arbitration decision has endorsed this approach. In Re Bayer Rubber Inc., a senior employee claimed that he was improperly removed from his machinist position, while a more junior employee who required an accommodation because of a disability was permitted to stay in his job. The union argued that, before interfering with the grievor's seniority rights, the employer had to make all reasonable efforts to scan the workplace for positions or work which might satisfy the disabled employee's need for accommodation. The arbitrator agreed. In his ruling, Arbitrator Watters stated that:

"... an Employer, after considering the full range of options and balancing the respective interests, may reasonably determine that the 'most sensible' accommodation is one which does affect the contractual rights of other employees, including seniority. In my view, however, an Employer should first strive to avoid any significant interference with seniority rights, to the extent that is possible, given the importance of seniority to the workforce."

Given that other reasonable accommodations were available that did not intrude into existing seniority rights, the arbitrator found that the employer's selected accommodation in this case amounted to a significant, rather than a slight, interference.

Similarly, in Overwaitea Food Group, the employer had denied an employee a shift-change premium, because the shift change was necessary to accommodate the scheduling needs of an employee with a disability. The union accepted that, as a general rule, it had a duty to cooperate with the company to accommodate such an employee. However, the arbitrator found that, in this case, the company could have accommodated the disabled employee without breaching the collective agreement rights of the grievor:

"It is clear on the evidence that had [the manager] adopted a different set of priorities, he could have given an effective 24-hour notice and complied with the duty to accommodate. In these circumstances it is clear that there was no conflict between the collective agreement and the duty to accommodate [the grievor]. The duty to accommodate is not an eraser with which an employer can rub out inconvenient provisions of a collective agreement. The duty to accommodate only overrides a provision of the collective agreement where, as in Renaud, the provision conflicts with the duty to accommodate."

(C) Collective Agreement Rights Outside the Bargaining Unit

If the only reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee is a placement in a non-bargaining unit position, is an employee entitled to request this? And if she or he is entitled to the position, do the employee's collective agreement rights and benefits follow them? The present indication is that an employer cannot automatically exclude a position from an accommodation consideration merely because it is not in the bargaining unit. However, the ability to export rights and benefits outside of the bargaining unit is limited. Nevertheless, the cases also recognise that loss of bargaining unit status can constitute indirect discrimination because of the loss of just cause protection, the loss of union representation and the loss of economic benefits that come with a collective agreement.

In several recent decisions, arbitration boards have ruled that non-unit positions should be among the list of potential accommodations, if no position within the bargaining unit would satisfy the duty. In Re Riverdale Hospital and Re Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, the arbitration boards both held that bargaining unit boundaries may amount to a discriminatory barrier under the human rights legislation.

However, collective agreement rights and benefits have not passed so easily through the bargaining unit walls. In Re Interlink Freight Services, the injured employee, a truck driver, was temporarily placed in a security guard position as part of a "work-hardening" program while he was recovering from a disability. The guard position was not covered by the collective agreement. Subsequently, the employer removed him from that position because of work performance concerns. The union grieved against the removal, and the employer argued that the union had no right to grieve under the agreement because the employee was not a member of the bargaining unit when working as a security guard. The arbitrator agreed with the company. He stated that the employee retains his right under the collective agreement to return to his driver's position when he becomes physically fit. However, the arbitrator went on to say that:

"... the duty to accommodate [does not] extend to exporting or expanding the terms and conditions of the collective agreement so as to apply them to non-bargaining unit positions. [This] would overstep the line which properly protects equal treatment and non-discrimination, and would effectively confer upon the grievor rights beyond those enjoyed by his peers in the bargaining unit, or his peers in the non-bargaining unit position of security guard."

In another recent decision involving similar issues, the arbitration board in Re West Park Hospital was faced with a grievance from a disabled nurse who had been transferred to a position outside of the bargaining unit. The employer had determined that this was the only way to properly accommodate her back injury. The union argued that the transfer constituted indirect discrimination, since the nurse would be unable to retain her collective agreement benefits and rights. The arbitrator concluded that an employer's primary obligation is to attempt to accommodate an employee in her or his own job. However, if such accommodation within the bargaining unit is not possible, the duty requires an offer of suitable work elsewhere as a last measure, and that may not necessarily be in a bargaining unit position.

The most recent word on the subject strongly suggests that a bargaining unit position, because of the collective agreement protection it offers, is an important job benefit, and is not to be lightly interfered with. In Re Mount Sinai Hospital, the grievor was a nurse with a permanent partial injury to her back, which restricted her ability to lift and to be on her feet for an extended time. The hospital eventually found her a part-time position outside of the bargaining unit as a ward clerk. The grievor's union protested, arguing that the hospital had ignored other feasible accommodations that would have kept the nurse within the bargaining unit. The arbitration board found that the hospital's search was inadequate. It also pointed out that the ward clerk position entailed a substantial reduction in pay and benefits for the grievor, placed her outside the scope of any union representation, and stranded her in work outside of the nursing profession. The loss of pay, professional status and union representation was a critical factor in the board's eyes:

"The adverse effect and costs of the [employer's] proposal were largely borne by the grievor. The proposal did not respect the grievor's preference to remain within the field of nursing and strips her of bargaining unit affiliation. Given that disabled employees face restrictions in the variety and amount of work that they can perform attributable to the nature of their handicap, they may be more vulnerable than able-bodied members of the employer's workforce to the efforts of downsizing and elimination of positions. It is a significant bulwark against such vulnerability to be able to avail oneself of the assistance of a bargaining agent to advocate accommodation proposals with the employer, to utilise seniority rights in the event of lay-off and to have just cause protection against discharge, with rights to grieve and access to arbitration." Thus, the test as to whether an employee can be compelled to accept an accommodation position outside the bargaining unit depends on if there are other, less drastic accommodations available within the unit. An assignment outside the bargaining unit would in most circumstances be acceptable only after all other possibilities of an accommodation within the unit have been exhausted.

III. The Responsibilities of a Disabled Employee

The Supreme Court of Canada in Renaud wrote that the search for accommodation in the workplace is a multi-party responsibility. Along with the employer and the union, the individual employee must also actively participate in finding an appropriate accommodation. When an employer, or an employer and a union together, have come up with a reasonable proposal, the employee has a duty by law to facilitate the implementation of the proposal. "The [employee] cannot expect a perfect solution. If a proposal that would be reasonable in all the circumstances is turned down, the employer's duty is discharged."

The requirement upon an employee seeking an accommodation is well illustrated in Re GSW Heating Products Ltd. In this case, an employee was unable to return to his work as a stuffer operator for a chimney insulation manufacturer as a result of a variety of ailments that included a serious back injury. The employer eventually terminated him for excessive innocent absenteeism. Before doing that, the employer had selected several jobs which met the restrictions set out by the employee's doctor. The employer then allowed him to choose the one he liked best. The employee found the standing and bending painful, but made no effort to identify the problem or seek assistance for a solution. The arbitrator found that the grievor could have solved both problems by using his own initiative to adopt the use of a chair and to ask that his raw materials be placed on a table. He apparently had never identified these problems to his supervisor. Nor had he accurately described his job to his doctors so that they could suggest modifications. On these facts, the arbitrator ruled that, in light of the grievor's lack of cooperation, the employer had satisfied its duty to accommodate.

Other recent rulings have reinforced the dictum from Renaud on the scope of the employee's responsibility. The Federal Court of Canada, in Guibord v. The Queen, ruled on a judicial review application that when a disabled employee refuses an accommodation offer of alternative employment at another location, she or he must provide a reasonable explanation for the refusal. This refusal must be based upon more than a mere reluctance to accept a job that was not her old position. Furthermore, the Federal Court stated, the employer was entitled to reject the suggestions for accommodation offered by the employee and her doctor, where these suggestions did not meet the employer's operational requirements. In Re T.T.C. Bottling Ltd., as part of the conditions that the arbitrator designed for the grievor's accommodation in his new position, he had to accept the lower rate of pay that went with the new position, he could not operate motorised vehicles or handle dangerous materials, and he had to wear personal protective clothing at all times. And in Re Canadian Pacific Ltd., the arbitrator ruled that an employee seeking an accommodation, in circumstances where there were no available permanent positions, must be prepared to accept retraining and offers of temporary work, or risk exhausting the opportunity to be accommodated.

The employee bears the initial onus of proving that she or he is medically fit to return to work. If the employer has reasonable concerns about the adequacy of the medical evidence, it can legitimately request further and better evidence from the employee.

IV. Conclusion

Accommodation is now a deeply entrenched feature in Canadian labour law. It has only been actively applied since the beginning of this decade, but it has already spawned or accelerated three remarkable trends in the arbitration system that are changing the very face of labour adjudication in Canada.

First, where the jurisdiction of arbitrators was once closely bound by the four corners of the collective agreement, the introduction and rapid growth of the accommodation duty has seen the arbitral authority to interpret and apply external laws enlarged significantly. Whatever remaining pull had been exerted by the traditional "residual rights" approach to arbitration that collective agreements are to be interpreted restrictively, and any term or condition that had not been specifically acquired in negotiations by the union belonged to management has now been almost entirely extinguished with this infusion of equality values into the process.

Second, labour arbitration, once deemed to be a private dispute arrangement to determine private rights, is now acquiring a considerable public rights responsibility. While traditional contract analysis will surely remain an important arrow in the arbitrator's quiver, it will no longer be the only, or on many occasions even the principal, method of analysis. The scope of remedial authority, the infusion of human rights standards into the interpretative analysis, the reading of public statutes alongside collective agreements: all of these concepts and more are rapidly changing the character of what was until recently a relatively discrete and insular area of private law.

And third, in its detail, the duty is often complex to interpret and difficult to apply. Consequently, lengthy arbitration hearings on disability and equality issues are increasingly commonplace, and are invariably law driven and lawyer dominated. Canadian labour law, already perhaps the world's most juridified industrial relations system, is becoming even more so.

Beyond these institutional changes to the Canadian labour arbitration system, the practical effect of the emergence of the accommodation duty has meant dramatically enhanced employment rights for employees with disabilities. For persons with disabilities who, according to a recent federal government study, are dramatically over-represented among the poor, the unemployed and those without a post-secondary education, and who are frequently frustrated in their search for a viable accommodation in the workplace, the arrival of the duty means a greater opportunity to participate on an equal footing in the new Canadian workplace.

For employers and unions, the duty to accommodate has required a new approach to their legal responsibilities in the changing workplace. The emerging law on human rights and accommodation are not always easy to understand and apply, but the courts, labour arbitrators and human rights tribunals are very clear that there is no turning back.

Comments

I was off work for 5 months after discovering i have ms, found the system for applying for disability to be difficult and not in my favour so i went back to work with a Dr. note and an Accommodations request. For the most part work has followed it, but now i am being scheduled past what the note recommended and what was in the accomodations request. I feel unable to continue to work because i am in a relapse and not sure of what my rights are regarding the scheduling problems, for example the Dr. recommends no more than 5 hours per shift, no more than 4 shifts a week. Because it is retail and shifts are made each week, i ended up with 7 shifts in a row and for longer than 5 hours. I want to fight this but feel uneasy about how to go about this. I have contacted the union and haven't had any response. I feel if i continue in this workplace my health will suffer.

Sorry to hear that your employer is not being reasonable. My advice is to contact someone else in the union. They all report to someone.

Also, if your health is going to suffer then I would recommend that you see your doctor again and takes some more time off. Check on how your sick days work. I know when I was off for 8 months and then returned for a bit but was able to take some more time off.

Good luck and it has been my experience that unions are not working for our benefit. So don't believe everything they tell you. Make sure you keep a record of it just iin case you need it in the future

Hello,

I'm sorry to hear of this. I have MS as well and have encountered the same problem. I think it's because we look okay that it's not taken seriously.

If you are in relapse then you shouldn't be working. It will make it so much more difficult and take so much longer to come out of it. But you probably know that :)

The thing is, you're going to have to assert yourself. I know it's stressful and will take a toll on you. I found it was much worse just taking it day after day. It snowballed. Call your union and ask for the disability representative. Tell them your problem in the workplace and with disability benefits. Do not settle for speaking with a steward!! They are rarely trained and often don't understand the complex issues of accommodation in the workplace.

Next stop on the assertiveness train... :) call the ms society and ask to speak to someone that can help you with benefits. They can help you and may know more than the union. 2 opinions are better than 1.

If you apply for disability benefits you need to know this. You will have to go without work to qualify for LTD for a period of time, usually 13 weeks. During that time you can qualify for UI sickness benefits - BUT - those 13 weeks of UI are based upon your last few weeks income. Do NOT work if you can only work a few days or a few hours as this will lessen your income in the future. You'll be paying for that big time.

This is a bit pushy of me and I'm sorry if this is an unwelcome comment, but you should consider getting out of retail. If you progress you may find it increasingly more difficult to stand and walk a lot. Go back to school. Get training now. I wish to god someone had told me this 15 years ago. If this is something you want to do ask the ms soc for guidance. Schools will accommodate you, their are extra grants and funding available. The MS Society provides $500 each year for help with extraordinary bills and such (heat, hydro). You can ask them to pay for a rehabilitation counsellor to help you find a career you can pursue with your interests that accommodates ms. I did this and it was a great help, and gave me confidence to get going. Your union probably has scholarships as well.

Your questions can be answered by the unions disability rep and the ms soc. If they don't, or you have questions about their answers write back. I'm been through the wringer with ms in a unionized workplace and may be able to help.

It's too rare that a workplace will proactively provide you with your rights. Maybe one day if enough of us speak up. I'm rooting for you!

If you live in a large city you maybe able to find an employment place/agency specifically geared for persons with disabilities - they could help with career and education counselling. You should only have to use the $500 if you live in the middle of no where.

Also, UI can take a while to get. You may need that $500. Pay your utilities last. The ms soc pays bills directly to the phone, internet companies etc, it won't pass through your hands. If you get in a tight spot waiting for UI should apply for income support - that's what it's there for! You will find it is easy thanks to the diagnosis. Some places do get it.

I have been off work for approx. 5 months with back problems. Ended up having surgery and am much better. I have went back to work in a "work hardening program" for the first 2 weeks back , I worked 4 hours. No problem. For the next two weeks , 6 hours/day. My spouse booked holidays prior to me getting sick and they are next week. I still have ALOT of vaca to use but am denied next week as I am on a program. Do I have a valid complaint or is this allowed ?

If you booked off that time in advance, maybe.

If this is news to your employer I'd say no. And that you're setting yourself up for some grief if you press the issue.

Here's why I say that - they were without your services for 5 months, and now you are slowly ramping up which they could also view as an inconvenience. Not nice. Not fair. But there it is.

Too many employers in Canada view accommodating a pwd as a magnanimous gesture, that they're doing you a favour. Too many employers, managers and supervisors don't believe disability that they cannot witness with their own eyes. Too many employers having generously made a gesture of accommodation are just waiting for you to fail and give them a reason to fire you. Insisting on taking more time off is going to sour them on you and could go very badly for you and cause more grief than any vacation will heal. That it is for a vacation could make it worse in their eyes as in 'you want MORE time off?' as though recuperating is somehow a vacation. (eyeroll)

This is not a battle worth fighting. Even if you lose money on the booking.

What you can do to salvage something from this is tell them you had this vacation booked but your loyalty/dedication/etc and eagerness to get back to work takes priority therefore you are taking the hit for the cost of the lost booking and will reschedule later when it doesn't inconvenience them. Sicking to type, worse to say, but you'll be further ahead in the long run by that than insisting on a vacation. Sorry. I wish we were more advanced.

Just my opinion. I'd be curious to read others take on this.

Hi there. I am hoping to find some information/help.

I am a teacher (through a private school), and I had to go on LTD a while ago due to illness and injury suffered during my time teaching. I had an ongoing contract with the school (pretty much considered a permanent employee). I had been paying into my employer's extended health coverage during my time on LTD. Everything was good. I paid monthly and got the benefits I needed. However, I just received an email from them saying that I could no longer be on the extended health benefits because I have not been actively working for the past 2 years. They said I had to find my own benefits if I wanted them.

However, now I have pre-existing conditions due to my illness and injury. I cannot find any medical plan out there that comes even close to what my excellent coverage was, either. :(

Is there anything I can do? I believe I'm still listed as an employee at the school. I never received anything to say otherwise. I think if they were going to terminate me, then my contract says they would have to pay me severance. I also think my contract says that I'm allowed to be on the medical plan as an employee. I don't know what to do. I just want to go back to keeping my extended health coverage. It's expensive, but it covered me and my child.

Hi there. I am hoping to find some information/help.

I am a teacher (through a private school), and I had to go on LTD a while ago due to illness and injury suffered during my time teaching. I had an ongoing contract with the school (pretty much considered a permanent employee). I had been paying into my employer's extended health coverage during my time on LTD. Everything was good. I paid monthly and got the benefits I needed. However, I just received an email from them saying that I could no longer be on the extended health benefits because I have not been actively working for the past 2 years. They said I had to find my own benefits if I wanted them.

However, now I have pre-existing conditions due to my illness and injury. I cannot find any medical plan out there that comes even close to what my excellent coverage was, either. :(

Is there anything I can do? I believe I'm still listed as an employee at the school. I never received anything to say otherwise. I think if they were going to terminate me, then my contract says they would have to pay me severance. I also think my contract says that I'm allowed to be on the medical plan as an employee. I don't know what to do. I just want to go back to keeping my extended health coverage. It's expensive, but it covered me and my child.

Hi, After 2 years on LTD you'd typically get switched to a different level of coverage that is provided solely through the insurer. That's why you're still on ltd but your extended benefits have cut out.

I'm 99% sure that your employer/ext benefits company has to offer you the option to continue on with 'some' form of coverage that you can pay out of pocket for. It will cost more, the coverage won't be as good but... (and don't forget dental! that can be super pricey)

Look into your provinces extended benefits/drug coverage to see if you qualify.

Not nice is it? And keep your receipts, you may be able to claim on taxes. File for the disability tax credit too.

Talk to your teachers union for more advice. You might want to ask them how you can get your coverage reinstated - part time work, trial short term return... that sort of thing

Thanks for your reply :)
It's been longer than 2 years, though. It's been about 4. But the school said they have recently changed their policies and anyone who has not been actively working for the past 2 years cannot pay into the school's extended health any more.

I don't have a teacher's union because it's a private, independent school in BC.

:(

You're most welcome. If they've changed the policy then this scenario should have been a consideration. They're shifting the cost to you, so they should be making it a bit fairer. Ask to see the policy and board minutes. What this does is reduce your ltd benefits and erodes your income.

It's very common to offer the ability to purchase extended benefits. You won't have to pass the any requirement for pre-existing conditions, you'll be grandfathered in. Same thing happens when you quit or get laid off.

I believe the window of opportunity from the end of coverage to sign up to pay for ext benefits is 3 months. Probably quicker to call the insurance company. If they give you the run around get the school hr on it. I'm not sure if this is the law, but it's so common now I'm wondering if it might be. Really worth a shot.

Thanks yet again for your reply and info.

Actually, the school switched providers just after my initial LTD claim, so my LTD has been covered by a different provider for the past 4 years, while my school's extended health is under the newer provider. Now the school is switching again. I'll contact that insurance provider directly to see if it's possible to just stay on. Hopefully, that will work. As for the school's HR... pretty much that is non-existent. Small, small school. I'm on my own with this :(

You only think you're on your own. It's hard to know where to go for help isn't it?

Before you call the insurance company call the BC Coalition of persons with disabilities for advice. They should know more about any legal requirement to offer you the option of continuing on. Easier if you get it right the first time than getting an insurance company to fix a mistake.

If you're still stuck, and if you have a recognized 'type' of disability like vision or hearing - contact the national body for that group. Like Blindcanadians!

And don't forget that your MLA and MP have paid staff to help constituents with these sorts of problems.

It can be lonely, but you're not alone.

That's great advice. I'll give that a shot.
Thanks so much for your help!!! :)

please don't forget dental! a root canal goes for around $800 these days!

Prepare to be disappointed at the levels of coverage available and the costs. You're entering the world of 'better than nothing'.

I was seriously injured at work during a staff student basketball game. I am a teacher. I was moved from the gym to the staff room. No ambulance was called. My husband took me to the hospital. I was sent home that night with a broken scaffold and a "chip" in my knee and needed to await surgery...a call the next day from the surgeon wanting us back to hospital immediately. It was NOT a chip. My leg hyperextended forward 90 degrees. Both ACL and PCL ligaments torn off the bone taking bone with it. I had a tibial plateau fracture , my leg dislocated and popped in. Surgery was that day. I was at home in a wheelchair, nursing care, Wheeltrans, pain. My injury was in May 2012. The union is on summer vacation . My surgeon suspected CRPS. I was given a referral to a pain specialist. WSIB sent me for a 2nd opinion. THEIR doctor said "ah it's not CRPS" no testing, history, evidence... I had to fight WSIB to go to pain specialist as they were not providing transportation. I called provincial union and was helped and walked through it. I went to the pain specialist and was diagnosed with CRPS. reports were sent to WSIB as well as a phone call from pain doctor. I also followed up by telling WSIB. WSIB provided transportation to sympathetic blocks and future appointments. In September 2012 I was contacted by the employer to discus return to work. ( I was still in a wheelchair And awaiting surgery in November. I was still going through sympathetic blocks to get CRPS under control. THEIR doctor said there was no reason I couldn't work. I was bullied, told to sit sideways in a taxi, have the cab driver carry in my toilet commode daily, lots of people work 12 hours, etc... This was a fight I did on my own. I needed anxiety pills from doctor due to stress. (Stress also contributes to CRPS making it worse). My employer did not go through with the return to work at this time as I was scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks. That gave me 12 weeks. Please note that the surgeon THEIR did the surgery, but even with pain doctors reports of my CRPS, the surgeon STILL did not believe in CRPS or that I had it. I was laughed at, belittled from this surgeon. While recovering from the 2nd surgery I contained with my CRPS treatment, physio, appointments...and now heart problems that were being investigated. In February I attended a return to work meeting at WSIB. I was advised by my local union that I did NOT need representation...later. Provincial union member said no I should ALWAYS have representation at any meeting. At this meeting, the Return to Work Specialist ONLY had my left leg, left Wrist as injury....NO CRPS was on file. There was nothing she could do, and advised me to contact the case manager to sort out. I then had a RTW meeting at my school. I brought with me all doctors reports, diagnoses, letters regarding CRPS. The employer would not accommodate my CRPS as it was not yet entitled from WSIB despite all doctors reports. Looking back should my union rep had requested we wait until there was a decision on my CRPS as going back to work without accommodations would seriously jeopardize my health and safety? My union member was not knowledgeable in this, and went with the attitude that I need to cooperate regardless. While in the meeting my union rep sat on his cell phone most of the time. I would have to stop and ask ..is this right, what should I do...and he would put his phone down and say yes. I was placed back in the class. Every 3 weeks we had meetings to follow up and move forward. I continued to struggle, pain, exhaustion, mobility, and continuing with appointments, physio etc. my employer continued to increase my time and take away supports despite what I said. I would present doctor FAF forms. I was told " these are just recommendations and that my employer did not need to follow them... I would have to prove that I was being made worse". My union rep said.." She has just told you she is struggling and hula re giving her more hours." I was informed by union I front of the employer to call in sick and claim it is my "knee that is bothering me" so that it would be a WSIB day and not my sick day. Throughout these weeks going back to work, I called WSIB numerous times, I left countless messages...my case manager never returned my calls. I also called to complain about THEIR surgeon, as while I was at a follow up in March of 2013 I continued to tell him about my nerve pain that was spreading away from the original injury site....I was laughed at and told it was a woman issue and to see a gynocologist. I called my case manager crying about this, and that many things were fabricated in his report that he says I said....again No call back. June was approaching and I continued to get worse with pain and many sick days. At another follow up appointment in May with THEIR doctor and I told him they have me working full time...he was even in disbelief and says " how's that working out for you." In the summer I returned to the pain so for with pain that has spread. I was given lidocaine infusion and also higher doses of pain pills. I found out that my case manager had done NOTHONG with regards to my case. In a conference call with WSIB case manger , nurse, and their manager i explained my journey and frustrations with them and my worsening condition with CRPS. They felt there was a discrepancy with the diagnoses of CRPS. they tried to tell me I was tested by their doctor..I said No. They wanted me to get another opinion with THEIR pain doctor before making a decision.....in the mean time I was AGAIN sent back to work....again here was a RTW meeting to discuss accommodations for the coming year. I had a NEW union rep who knew little about my case. The 2 minutes with my union rep is a joke before the meeting to get a feel for what is going on and to advocate on my behalf. In the meeting I was given extremely limited accommodations. No EA, walkie talkie, ( I had 2 high needs students that had full support last year, but were coming to me with zero EA support this year...1 on an alternative report and another known for violence and running), no stairs, and to get other staff and volunteers to assist. No carrying, get students to. One to me..sleep at lunch or recess. Unrealistic as I am a teacher of a split grade 1/2 class. I used crutches and wheelchair. I would have flare ups, pain, stiffness, insomnia. I called to tell WSIB and was told I was too dedicated a teacher. I would take many sick days as it was unsafe for me to drive being so tired and too painful to be at school ( I would wear gloves while doing report cards as my fingers were in so much pain). I got a 2nd opinion with my CRPS the doctor agreed with the pain specialist diagnoses and felt I was being treated appropriately by my pain doctor. This was sent to WSIB. I still was required to attend THEIR pain doctors appointment. He also agreed that I had CRPS. I was given entitlement for CRPS as part of my work injury in October 2013...1 YEAR after my original diagnoses. WSIB in a phone call said that "I will be in pain the rest of my life and that some people just deal with pain better than others...IF I needed a day off due to my CRPS it would be my OWN sick day as I couldn't deal with the pain. I was also told that if I did NOT go along with their doctor they would CUT ME OFF. All of my strength and positive faith that justice will happen...faded away. My family doctor was extremely concerned with my health as I was not sleeping (a symptom do CRPS as I my brain does not go into REM sleep) and anxiety and depression. While in the doctors appointment I received an email that said I was to attend a meeting with my employer, union rep principal and myself the next day. My family doctor said IF the accommodations are not Appropriate for the CRPS that I was to see him immediately as he was going to tell me to stop working to get well. In the meeting the disability rep for the board and their WSIB specialist recommended I take "personal occupational sick leave". That was December 2013. My union rep felt that was best for me too. They also thanked the employer for caring for me and being so cooperative. I stated in that meeting that I feel the system failed me. I felt I was in this position due to my treatment. I went off work and was now consuming my personal sick days and continue to use. My family doctor filled in the paper work and I am still awaiting an appointment to the mental health services..while waiting I proactively found a psychologist who got approval from WSIB for a physc. Assessment. Once telling her my journey, she was appalled. It was her recommendation that my time off is NOT sick days but is definitely related to my work injury and she recommends I am off work to heal, and get counselling on living with a permanent disability that can get worse with time, stress, or even a bump could cause my CRPS to spread or increase. There is no cure for CRPS. I recently had a Ketamine Infusion with THEIR doctor. ( I did discuss with my pain doctor so I could make an informed decision despite WSIB's threat to "cut me off". The treatment was difficult, again WSIB wanted me to commute each day to the hospital (2hours or more depending on traffic) this was impossible due to my condition after each day of 6 hour treatment of high doses of ketamine. For 5 days I was confused, hallucinating, memory problems, I did not know my own children, or husband. I lost the ability to have my brain to control my limbs at times. My brain couldn't find words to my mouth..etc... BUT no pain. It was the first time in 2 years. I walked with no crutches, no stiffness, no pain. I walked normal. My physio cried she was so happy. IF I was not already off on "personal sick leave" I was expected to be back in the classroom on the Monday. (It was Friday I was sent home). To have this treatment be successful I needed to have no stress and to take it easy. In the class I would have been on my feet all day, fast paced, plus physio after, and continued insomnia where I was sleeping 3-4 hours a night. On the Monday I was still hallucinating, confused, etc.). I was also expected to be on high doses of pills to maintain high levels of the drug in my system. I was expected to drive and teach while on these drugs. Again causing fog, hallucinations etc. My pain started to return 5 days later. Being home has allowed me to rest, heat area, take pills...recover. Getting back to my physiologist who was to inform WSIB.....I never heard from her again, no email to look over her report, no call..I have called to inquire and still await a call back.

How can my union help me? I have a work injury so severe that it has lead to a permanent injury to my knee. It has lead to a progressive neurological disease CRPS that gets worse and is affected by stress, tiredness, or even heat, a cut, a spider bite. There is no cure. There is lack of knowledge of what CRPS is within the community. Accommodations are permanent and will change as my disease progresses. I want to protect my quality of life and feel that the stress from my teaching job will affect my CRPS. Dealing with my disease, and managing it is a FULLTIME job. Working greatly affected my quality of life at home, It affected my health and safety daily. It affected my ability to fulfill my duties as a teacher. How should I proceed? I feel that my union has a lack of knowledge of dealing with such a complex case. How do unions deal with an employee that has a progressive disease directly caused by my work injury...that also has not healed due to the disease? I am at a loss of how to proceed? WSIB permanent injury unable to work, or LTD, how can my union investigate possible avenues and to protect my health. I need information. I do not want to get trapped into the " work now, get worse, and prove to us you are worse" I tried that I got worse. My life is too precious to me. My quality of life is too important. Please any guidance would be so helpful.

What a truly horrible tale. Get a lawyer. So much that is wrong has happened - get a lawyer to help you.

Your unions behaviour is indefensible. Escalate hard and fast within the union to get action. Go to every union meeting - get in their faces. Be a physical reminder that they have to look at and can't ignore.

Get a lawyer.

I was seriously injured at work during a staff student basketball game. I am a teacher. I was moved from the gym to the staff room. No ambulance was called. My husband took me to the hospital. I was sent home that night with a broken scaffold and a "chip" in my knee and needed to await surgery...a call the next day from the surgeon wanting us back to hospital immediately. It was NOT a chip. My leg hyperextended forward 90 degrees. Both ACL and PCL ligaments torn off the bone taking bone with it. I had a tibial plateau fracture , my leg dislocated and popped in. Surgery was that day. I was at home in a wheelchair, nursing care, Wheeltrans, pain. My injury was in May 2012. The union is on summer vacation . My surgeon suspected CRPS. I was given a referral to a pain specialist. WSIB sent me for a 2nd opinion. THEIR doctor said "ah it's not CRPS" no testing, history, evidence... I had to fight WSIB to go to pain specialist as they were not providing transportation. I called provincial union and was helped and walked through it. I went to the pain specialist and was diagnosed with CRPS. reports were sent to WSIB as well as a phone call from pain doctor. I also followed up by telling WSIB. WSIB provided transportation to sympathetic blocks and future appointments. In September 2012 I was contacted by the employer to discus return to work. ( I was still in a wheelchair And awaiting surgery in November. I was still going through sympathetic blocks to get CRPS under control. THEIR doctor said there was no reason I couldn't work. I was bullied, told to sit sideways in a taxi, have the cab driver carry in my toilet commode daily, lots of people work 12 hours, etc... This was a fight I did on my own. I needed anxiety pills from doctor due to stress. (Stress also contributes to CRPS making it worse). My employer did not go through with the return to work at this time as I was scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks. That gave me 12 weeks. Please note that the surgeon THEIR did the surgery, but even with pain doctors reports of my CRPS, the surgeon STILL did not believe in CRPS or that I had it. I was laughed at, belittled from this surgeon. While recovering from the 2nd surgery I contained with my CRPS treatment, physio, appointments...and now heart problems that were being investigated. In February I attended a return to work meeting at WSIB. I was advised by my local union that I did NOT need representation...later. Provincial union member said no I should ALWAYS have representation at any meeting. At this meeting, the Return to Work Specialist ONLY had my left leg, left Wrist as injury....NO CRPS was on file. There was nothing she could do, and advised me to contact the case manager to sort out. I then had a RTW meeting at my school. I brought with me all doctors reports, diagnoses, letters regarding CRPS. The employer would not accommodate my CRPS as it was not yet entitled from WSIB despite all doctors reports. Looking back should my union rep had requested we wait until there was a decision on my CRPS as going back to work without accommodations would seriously jeopardize my health and safety? My union member was not knowledgeable in this, and went with the attitude that I need to cooperate regardless. While in the meeting my union rep sat on his cell phone most of the time. I would have to stop and ask ..is this right, what should I do...and he would put his phone down and say yes. I was placed back in the class. Every 3 weeks we had meetings to follow up and move forward. I continued to struggle, pain, exhaustion, mobility, and continuing with appointments, physio etc. my employer continued to increase my time and take away supports despite what I said. I would present doctor FAF forms. I was told " these are just recommendations and that my employer did not need to follow them... I would have to prove that I was being made worse". My union rep said.." She has just told you she is struggling and hula re giving her more hours." I was informed by union I front of the employer to call in sick and claim it is my "knee that is bothering me" so that it would be a WSIB day and not my sick day. Throughout these weeks going back to work, I called WSIB numerous times, I left countless messages...my case manager never returned my calls. I also called to complain about THEIR surgeon, as while I was at a follow up in March of 2013 I continued to tell him about my nerve pain that was spreading away from the original injury site....I was laughed at and told it was a woman issue and to see a gynocologist. I called my case manager crying about this, and that many things were fabricated in his report that he says I said....again No call back. June was approaching and I continued to get worse with pain and many sick days. At another follow up appointment in May with THEIR doctor and I told him they have me working full time...he was even in disbelief and says " how's that working out for you." In the summer I returned to the pain so for with pain that has spread. I was given lidocaine infusion and also higher doses of pain pills. I found out that my case manager had done NOTHONG with regards to my case. In a conference call with WSIB case manger , nurse, and their manager i explained my journey and frustrations with them and my worsening condition with CRPS. They felt there was a discrepancy with the diagnoses of CRPS. they tried to tell me I was tested by their doctor..I said No. They wanted me to get another opinion with THEIR pain doctor before making a decision.....in the mean time I was AGAIN sent back to work....again here was a RTW meeting to discuss accommodations for the coming year. I had a NEW union rep who knew little about my case. The 2 minutes with my union rep is a joke before the meeting to get a feel for what is going on and to advocate on my behalf. In the meeting I was given extremely limited accommodations. No EA, walkie talkie, ( I had 2 high needs students that had full support last year, but were coming to me with zero EA support this year...1 on an alternative report and another known for violence and running), no stairs, and to get other staff and volunteers to assist. No carrying, get students to. One to me..sleep at lunch or recess. Unrealistic as I am a teacher of a split grade 1/2 class. I used crutches and wheelchair. I would have flare ups, pain, stiffness, insomnia. I called to tell WSIB and was told I was too dedicated a teacher. I would take many sick days as it was unsafe for me to drive being so tired and too painful to be at school ( I would wear gloves while doing report cards as my fingers were in so much pain). I got a 2nd opinion with my CRPS the doctor agreed with the pain specialist diagnoses and felt I was being treated appropriately by my pain doctor. This was sent to WSIB. I still was required to attend THEIR pain doctors appointment. He also agreed that I had CRPS. I was given entitlement for CRPS as part of my work injury in October 2013...1 YEAR after my original diagnoses. WSIB in a phone call said that "I will be in pain the rest of my life and that some people just deal with pain better than others...IF I needed a day off due to my CRPS it would be my OWN sick day as I couldn't deal with the pain. I was also told that if I did NOT go along with their doctor they would CUT ME OFF. All of my strength and positive faith that justice will happen...faded away. My family doctor was extremely concerned with my health as I was not sleeping (a symptom do CRPS as I my brain does not go into REM sleep) and anxiety and depression. While in the doctors appointment I received an email that said I was to attend a meeting with my employer, union rep principal and myself the next day. My family doctor said IF the accommodations are not Appropriate for the CRPS that I was to see him immediately as he was going to tell me to stop working to get well. In the meeting the disability rep for the board and their WSIB specialist recommended I take "personal occupational sick leave". That was December 2013. My union rep felt that was best for me too. They also thanked the employer for caring for me and being so cooperative. I stated in that meeting that I feel the system failed me. I felt I was in this position due to my treatment. I went off work and was now consuming my personal sick days and continue to use. My family doctor filled in the paper work and I am still awaiting an appointment to the mental health services..while waiting I proactively found a psychologist who got approval from WSIB for a physc. Assessment. Once telling her my journey, she was appalled. It was her recommendation that my time off is NOT sick days but is definitely related to my work injury and she recommends I am off work to heal, and get counselling on living with a permanent disability that can get worse with time, stress, or even a bump could cause my CRPS to spread or increase. There is no cure for CRPS. I recently had a Ketamine Infusion with THEIR doctor. ( I did discuss with my pain doctor so I could make an informed decision despite WSIB's threat to "cut me off". The treatment was difficult, again WSIB wanted me to commute each day to the hospital (2hours or more depending on traffic) this was impossible due to my condition after each day of 6 hour treatment of high doses of ketamine. For 5 days I was confused, hallucinating, memory problems, I did not know my own children, or husband. I lost the ability to have my brain to control my limbs at times. My brain couldn't find words to my mouth..etc... BUT no pain. It was the first time in 2 years. I walked with no crutches, no stiffness, no pain. I walked normal. My physio cried she was so happy. IF I was not already off on "personal sick leave" I was expected to be back in the classroom on the Monday. (It was Friday I was sent home). To have this treatment be successful I needed to have no stress and to take it easy. In the class I would have been on my feet all day, fast paced, plus physio after, and continued insomnia where I was sleeping 3-4 hours a night. On the Monday I was still hallucinating, confused, etc.). I was also expected to be on high doses of pills to maintain high levels of the drug in my system. I was expected to drive and teach while on these drugs. Again causing fog, hallucinations etc. My pain started to return 5 days later. Being home has allowed me to rest, heat area, take pills...recover. Getting back to my physiologist who was to inform WSIB.....I never heard from her again, no email to look over her report, no call..I have called to inquire and still await a call back.

How can my union help me? I have a work injury so severe that it has lead to a permanent injury to my knee. It has lead to a progressive neurological disease CRPS that gets worse and is affected by stress, tiredness, or even heat, a cut, a spider bite. There is no cure. There is lack of knowledge of what CRPS is within the community. Accommodations are permanent and will change as my disease progresses. I want to protect my quality of life and feel that the stress from my teaching job will affect my CRPS. Dealing with my disease, and managing it is a FULLTIME job. Working greatly affected my quality of life at home, It affected my health and safety daily. It affected my ability to fulfill my duties as a teacher. How should I proceed? I feel that my union has a lack of knowledge of dealing with such a complex case. How do unions deal with an employee that has a progressive disease directly caused by my work injury...that also has not healed due to the disease? I am at a loss of how to proceed? WSIB permanent injury unable to work, or LTD, how can my union investigate possible avenues and to protect my health. I need information. I do not want to get trapped into the " work now, get worse, and prove to us you are worse" I tried that I got worse. My life is too precious to me. My quality of life is too important. Please any guidance would be so helpful.

Hello,

Your story is just awful. I read it, stunned. Then there was more! and it got worse!!! Holy crap.

We almost need an advocate to guide us through these systems they're so complex and tricky.

I'm glad that your family doctor is on your side at least. And it is good that you have a psychologist - can you get more appointments covered by your benefit plan? You might also want to see a psychiatrist, they can be good for pain meds as odd as that sounds.

I've run the gamut through this nonsense, but I've no experience with WSIB (I assume that's the new name for workmans comp?)

If you can find a good union rep it can make a big difference. I too had the 2 minute review before important meetings. stunning how quick they are to cave in to employers to our detriment. Here's what I would do (from what you've said and not knowing a lot, so sorry if this is off base at all).... Find out who in your unions hierarchy is the person in charge of 'Equity' issues such as disability. They may have separate disability rep or it could be a combo of aboriginal/racial minorities/women/disability . Ask for a meeting - in person or via skype, do not fall for doing this all in writing as you'll never know if they've really read it and given it consideration. Make it personal!! Write down what you're going to say. What you've written here is great. (It must have taken a lot out of you. Every time I have to re-tell I find it exhausting!) I would sort it by the original injury - what happened and when, pause and ask if they have questions, then go into the wsib/union/specialist poopstorm. Pause for questions again - and talk slowly so they can take notes. Then - and this is THE most important part. Figure out exactly what you want and ask for it. Ask the Equity Rep what THEY personally can do. and if they can't do it all ask for names. Escalate baby. Escalate.

Most unions in Canada are sitting on untold millions of dollars. Time to spend some of that representing YOU.

Now ask for a lawyer. And don't back down. You need a lawyer RIGHT NOW to work for you with WSIB and the duty to accommodate. They should be running interference for you. Ask the lawyer why there haven't been any grievances filed on the duty to accommodate. Your story is insane. If you could afford to pay for a lawyer, they'd be all over this like white on rice. Thing is you've been paying for a lawyer every time deductions were taken from your paycheque for union dues - so DEMAND it. If they don't have staff lawyers they will have a cadre of lawyers they regularly use.

You should probably candy coat this with your union rep. Say something like you know he's busy and yours is such an odd case, perhaps someone else in the union could take this over from him. That sort of bs. It's a dance. Find out the name of an equity rep and ask him if you should contact them - make it seem like his idea and it will be easier for you as you go up the ranks. sickening but there it is. blech.

I hope this helps. I've gone through this, but not exactly your situation. Please write back if you can. I know you realize how harmful stress is, adrenaline can be our enemy if it's constantly pumped through our bodies and minds. Hard to relax when you're physically disabled and can't exercise. I'd make recommendations but you're obviously a smart person.

(and yes specialists and be prized idiots, one way to find a good doctor is to find people who have something similar - pain support groups and ask for names of drs. Your family dr should know as well.)

I work for a large Cdn Financial Institution. I have had a disability for many years but have been able to perform well part time in same job I have done since prior to my disability. This job is now being eliminated in my branch and assessments have shown that I am unable due to the nature of my disability another job offered to replace it , but should remain doing what I am doing. ( This job has not been eliminated in all branches ). What are my employer's options in dealing with this matter. It has been quite some time since the assessment was completed and duties are disappearing from my desk and "make work" projects given. My repeated requests for resolution are not being addressed. The stress of this which has been ongoing for months and months complicates my illness.

hi,on february12,2010 i was hurt while at work.i suffered a hand, elbow injury.i went to the doc.she filled out a work capabilities form stating that i would be able to return to work on light duties on march2,2010.my supervisor also had a incident report filled out stating that there was suitable work available on february25,2010.but when the doctor looked at form no modified duties were checked off.even though my employer stated there was work available.after being denied by workers compensation repeatedly i won my appeal for a right wrist strain/sprain injury.i had a rep from the united steel workers local1976. iwas then paid about 7000 dollars in lost income .the union rep said if i appeal the decision the union would no longer help me with my claim. i did appeal,and was granted a new hearing i then had a worker advisor member help me with appeal .i had surgery on my hand upon the surgery the doc said i have a triangular fibrocartilage tear. i again won my appeal and was awarded 410000 dollars for two and a half years of lost wages.to this day i still havent returned to any light duties or modified duties now wcb explained to me that my company wont take me back and i have to find new employement.because i have a permanent injurythat prevents me from doing my regular dutiesand my union never helped me beyond my first appeal.i went to physiotherapy at the hospital for almost 2 years to try and get back to work.but my supervisor keeps saying that there is no available work for me what if any are my rights.i have never returned to my job even though i did everything i could to return and no help from my union .
thank you.

Congratulations on your appeal! That was brave. There are some good unions out there, but I am becoming unsurprised when I read about stories like yours.

Disability and return to work are not well understood by unions or employers. It's not something they deal with everyday and every situation is different. Still, your union has seriously dropped the ball. Shameful.

I would write to the USW equity rep, cc the person you've been dealing with and ask for help from someone higher up the food chain. You are not getting the responsiveness or the quality of help your dues have been paying for.

Education & Equality Department
Department Head: Adriane Paavo
Staff Representatives: Kai Lai - Equality Issues

I would also cc the legal department, whoever denied you representation for your appeal should be slapped. Politely express your disappointment and inquire how the union proposes to work with you to resolve this. Depending on how the union works you could be dealing with either of these depts or both.

(they've screwed up, if you give them an opportunity to fix it and save face you'll get more out of it.)

Legal Department
Canadian Counsel: Robert Healey

I see they're all in the head office in toronto - get their email addresses and don't forget to include the local person you've been dealing with (again so they can save face).
http://www.usw.ca/union/who/national?id=0008

It looks like you have a few options:
determine if the employer really does not have any work or modified work that you can do.

If there truly isn't anything then you are looking at being paid to retrain/go back to school so that you can work in the future. This can be a tremendous opportunity!

If there is work you can be doing you need better representation - going to head office should do it. You may need to file a grievance or a human rights complaint. The legal department should help you with this decision. Your average union person does not 'get' human rights.

Please write back and let us know how this works out!!

i contacted the union and also sent in my appeal which i won to him 30 pages worth he returned my message in two days saying he s not sure what he could do but he ll get back to me that was 3 weeks ago as far as a grievence they said i should have filed one within a year so i cant do anything i know from experience that there was light duties i could of done but the supervisor said there was none available . i took a training coarse paid by wcb in security at minimum wage i dont think thats fair but if they think im going away there wrong i will fight to my death then they can try explaining that . i doudt ill hear back from the rep

HI Derek,

It a long fight believe me I know. Contact a free lawyer and see if you can sue through small claims court. Contact Human rights see if you have a case with them.

I have had a 3 year battle with the university of Calgary and they have made my life hell. My union has been useless. I finally resigned after 3 years.

The latest for me is I received an offer last August to resign and not to go forward with a human rights claim and a whole bunch of other crap. I rejected the offer.

I asked my union to send me my file back in March and just realized last week that the settlement offer was not in the package as well as my reasons for rejecting it.

My new union rep looked into it and the reply that I got was there was no such offer. The UofC and my old union rep insisted that I was making it up. I then received an email from the privy officer saying no such letter exists.

Thank God I had a copy of it, MY union did not help me in fact they gave the uofc ammunition. In my research I found out that it is not the first time my union rep did not do his job
At least now I have solid proof. MY point is don't trust them and document everything. Even telephone conversations, content and even the tone of the conversation.

It can take its toll.
I do not believe that this kind of treatment will go away unfortunately but they need to make it right if they can and unions need to do their job.
Every time I tell people my story I get the same response "didn't your union help you"

NO NO and no.

Good luck.

HI, four months after returning from disability leave, I was advised that my position was being abolished, during this time I expressed concern about my performance evaluation and that it was not fair based on the fact that I was off work due to a work related illness, I continued to escalate my concerns to Head Office and was then terminated. The federally regulated company has offered me a severance package however due to my disability I will be on medication for at least another two years,

My question is how do I get the employer to recognize this and pay me accordingly, would this be a human rights complaint?

I have been searching the internet but so far no luck in reviewing human rights decisions

Yes you have a human rights complaint.

Call the human rights commission - you'll need the federal one, not the provincial one. Tell them what happened and ask for help filing your complaint.

If you have a union they should be helping you, whether or not you are still an employee.

Searching case law is very difficult. See if you can get legal help, contingency, pro bono, student lawyer... the commission may be able to direct you as well.

Good for you standing up for your rights! Doing this will affect the people who come after you.

You need to check any time limit. Not sure what it is for the feds. Provincially you have two years.

Someone please listen.

In need of advise please.

I worked in a unionized environment for the last 6 years. In May 2011, I went on stress leave because of bullying and harassment. My councilor through work told me it was the worse case she had ever heard of. Well it can get worse and it did.

My doctor cleared to me to go back to work for Sept. 6th, 2011 on the pretense that I would be moved to main campus. My doctor even stipulated not to put me back in the same environment because it would not be good for mental health on a least three different back to work forms.

I returned to work on September 6th to be escorted to the HR department. I was informed at that time that they were going to accommodate me. I was told to go home and wait for the call.

Two weeks after that I was informed that my employer did not think that I was capable to work and I needed a urgent psyche evaluation. I did not want to do this but was given no choice because refusal would mean no pay.

On Sept. 30, 2011, I saw an IME and was cleared verbally by her to go back to work. On Oct. 4 a copy of the IME report was sent to my doctor. It said that it was very probable that I suffered from a mental illness. I started to believe it because that is not what I remember her telling me. My doctor was not convinced and did not take the recommendations of the Independent IME. However, she did send me to another psychiatrist just to be on safe side which was scheduled for Jan. 10, 2012. In the meantime, I had to go on long term mental disability.

I did in fact hear the IME correctly when she told me that I was cleared for work. My union received a copy of a phone log stating that the IME could not find any reason to keep me off work. It also stated that Staff Wellness asked HR what other steps we can take. I received the phone log on Dec. 11, 2011.

My examination with the 2nd psychiatrist was way more in-depth. The whole process took over 4 hours without interruption. Again, I was cleared. There is not nothing wrong with me.

I went back to work on March 5, 2012. I was put in a new position with the same faculty. If thought I was being harassed before but nothing could of prepared me for what I was about to face. It was extremely unpleasant at the very least.

My union put in grievances and that got me no where. The union kept stringing me along for almost a year without result. Finally, I put in a Human Rights claim and it was accepted. My Employer keeps stalling and now it is going to investigation.

Since I have put in my claim with Human Rights I lost my position and now had to report to the women who caused me a lot of grief. She is the head of admin services. My position consisted of being a helper for other admin assistants. I had no longer had a desk or phone and felt like I was put on display.

I let my union know on many different occasions how this was affecting me and they did nothing. Finally, I sent in my resignation to my union rep saying that being destitute was far less humiliating than being in my current work situation. She told not to resign she would do something. Again, nothing was done. In fact it got worse. My co workers started using words like hate and ….well you get the point.

My breaking point was when my chair broke for the second time. Between hearing the “hate” words and my chair breaking again I could not take it anymore. This has been going on for almost 3 years. I finally resigned on May 2, 2013, after attempting suicide. I have never attempted suicide before. I just needed it to stop. I took some sick days previous to me resigning and now they will not pay me for my sick days. If trying to commit suicide does not qualify me for sick days I don’t know what does. My union and staff wellness are both aware of what I had done.

I tried to commit suicide because I wanted it to stop. I resigned because I wanted it to stop. It is still going on. Every few days my union tells me that they are going to pay me and they don’t. Although, it is not a lot of money it is too me. At least my rent could get covered.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this kind of hatred. I thought working at the university would have been a great place to work.

What can I do? Thanks for taking the time.

good evening

I have gone through something astonishingly similar, with some success and some lessons.

I am up for a few more hours and would be pleased as punch to talk with you. You said suicide, right? Please email me so we can connect, I think I can help. dangerousnovels at yahoo dot com.

I am up for two more hours, otherwise we can speak tomorrow night if you'd like.

I get it.

would love to talk....D

would love to talk....D

Thanks for reaching out. I would love any advise you can give me. I will email you tomorrow.
It is funny cause I know everyone has a story and life is filled with hardship but Never in a million would I have thought being an administrative assistant for the university is what would of gotten me in the end. Thanks again. Looking forward to hearing from you.

:) thank you! just nodding off. Look forward to it!!!

Thanks for reaching out. I would love any advise you can give me. I will email you tomorrow.
It is funny cause I know everyone has a story and life is filled with hardship but Never in a million would I have thought being an administrative assistant for the university is what would of gotten me in the end. Thanks again. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Hello again!

I'm getting sleepy, but am worried by your post. Could you please reply so that I know you've read these?

You're going through something almost identical to me, but I didn't last so long! You're much stronger than I am.

After tomorrow morning I won't have access to email until the evening, so if you do send an email - don't think i'm ignoring you. You're not alone.

Good day
This has been informative. I have been asking for accommodations at work since October. I am a person with a permanent visual disability and it is a degenerative disorder. I have provided medicals from a Low Vision Clinic locally, family Dr and specialists. finally with no action I went off work the nd of January 2013 until assistive devices are in place. It has been a total circus, being told by hR that I won't be accommodated until I am back at work I was told "you're in a catch 22". I have a union and they have been helpful but the crap continues of not accommodating. I was cleared by my Dr to return to work April 8th this was provided to my employer on March 11 and I was told Friday April 5th at 11;30 that I could not return, further medical was needed, so I provided that by 4 pm then I was told by my employer at 4:23 not to be at work on the 8th my assistive devices are not available. I have filed a grievance for this as it delayed my return to work by a week until April 15 th. HR admitted they wanted a full 30 days to be able to return the equipment so it was ordered close with a day of my return to work, and turned out to be on back order. Anyways the crap continues, and now I have applied for a new job within my department. I screened in and invited to take part in a testing process prior to interview. I have tested over 4 other times in the past and accommodated based on medical note stating larger font, extra time and computer all required. This time I am told I do not require any of those. I am told I need another medical that Objectively explains why I continue to need these if I have assistive devices. I want to point out my assistive devices are stationary at my desk, CCTV, zoom text, large button keyboard, and a large monitor. So I have a union but I think ths needs to be taken further. I am feeling harassed my accomodation requests are all reasonable and they continue to deny or ask for medicals. I find it so dust raising and I am starting to feel so discouraged. You should see the emails it's unreal I am a municipal employee with a union I feel though my human rights to equal treatment and accommodation are not being met

Good day
This has been informative. I have been asking for accommodations at work since October. I am a person with a permanent visual disability and it is a degenerative disorder. I have provided medicals from a Low Vision Clinic locally, family Dr and specialists. finally with no action I went off work the nd of January 2013 until assistive devices are in place. It has been a total circus, being told by hR that I won't be accommodated until I am back at work I was told "you're in a catch 22". I have a union and they have been helpful but the crap continues of not accommodating. I was cleared by my Dr to return to work April 8th this was provided to my employer on March 11 and I was told Friday April 5th at 11;30 that I could not return, further medical was needed, so I provided that by 4 pm then I was told by my employer at 4:23 not to be at work on the 8th my assistive devices are not available. I have filed a grievance for this as it delayed my return to work by a week until April 15 th. HR admitted they wanted a full 30 days to be able to return the equipment so it was ordered close with a day of my return to work, and turned out to be on back order. Anyways the crap continues, and now I have applied for a new job within my department. I screened in and invited to take part in a testing process prior to interview. I have tested over 4 other times in the past and accommodated based on medical note stating larger font, extra time and computer all required. This time I am told I do not require any of those. I am told I need another medical that Objectively explains why I continue to need these if I have assistive devices. I want to point out my assistive devices are stationary at my desk, CCTV, zoom text, large button keyboard, and a large monitor. So I have a union but I think ths needs to be taken further. I am feeling harassed my accomodation requests are all reasonable and they continue to deny or ask for medicals. I find it so dust raising and I am starting to feel so discouraged. You should see the emails it's unreal I am a municipal employee with a union I feel though my human rights to equal treatment and accommodation are not being met

Hi,

It's as though the laws that are in place are meaningless to employers. They are the ones who can make or break workplace accommodations. I am sorry for your experience.

We are all affected when rights for pwd are not taken seriously. It erodes.

Almost 50% of all human rights complaints across Canada are for disability and employment.

You are being discriminated against. Both for the failure of duty to accommodate in your current position and for the interview. Sounds to me like they don't want to spend any money on your needs. Shame them. Tell them about federal funds that are available through the Office of Disability Issues for employers who can't afford assistive devices etc.

And the business about being told not to come in that they need more medical info? BS. They were stalling because they didn't order your equipment soon enough and they got caught. If you are asked for more medical information, ask them to be clear about what was missing and why they need to know, get a paper trail.

You may want to give some thought to filing a human rights complaint. The grievance and arbitration route protects the employer too much. There is no publicity or record. They can hush this up with the help of the union (many unions are too lazy or too ill informed to help with the duty to accommodate). The employer and the union own the grievance process - not you. Your union will decide if they want to negotiate, bargain, dismiss or arbitrate the grievance - not you. The union owns the grievance. However, you would own the human rights complaint and the employer will now have to answer, on the record, to you and the human right commission.

Grievances don't scare employers, human rights complaints do.

You're getting screwed over and I don't see it ending until something changes, do you?

No one deserves to be treated like this, it is a crime. Assert yourself and demand your rights. A lot of people struggled long and hard for human rights for you and me.

Hi:
I was wondering if you could tell me what health issues they consider for being accommodated in the workplace? I work in a factory and have been there for 29 years. Some of us senior folks finally got the right through negotiations to work steady days instead of shiftwork. We had finally got something we had worked towards. Now, we are all slowly being taken off our days by accomodated employees with less seniority. I realize some do have to be accomodated but we have people with tennis elbow, arthritis,and other reasons. So, could you please tell me what is to be acceptable for accommodation, our workplace is being overrun by people who say they cannot work shift work, I am now back on shift and younger people are on steady days, and what are my rights.
Thanks
DP

I think the people who come here are looking to be accommodated. I can't think how to answer your question.

If you are unionized you need to speak with your union, otherwise I would consult a labour lawyer. This should be something they can answer easily.

As to what is an acceptable accommodation, frustrating as it is, there is no firm answer. It could be family obligations, side effects of medications... any number of things. Not only for the hours, but they type of work.

Hi
Looking for some advice. I am a LPN working in a nursing home here in Nl. My trouble... I have pretty severe Rhemuatoid arthritis.. I was diagnosed in 2001 after suffering for a year or so... I'm 35 so not sure what to do.. Since suffering from Ra I have been put on the sick leave system at my workplace... My union has done very little and never fight for me... I was told there isnot much they can do as they agreed to this sick leave policy... Basically in a year we are allowed off sick 6 different times or so many hrs.... I have a disability with much documented evidence via my family dr and specialists. I keep working because financially I have to. For all sick leave I always bring in a medical certificate from my doctor. Last week I applied on a new job... After 13 yrs seniority I was denied the job because of my sick time. I called my union ..nothing they can do he told me.. First he said after 13 yrs u haven't sick time banked... No I said we'll not much I can do because they see you as unreliable... Even though all my sick time is due to my illness... The job I applied on it 7 more hrs then I work right now ....BUT ... It's only 7.5 hr shifts ..as opposed to a 12 I worked now... What really gets me is that we just lost a bunch of jobs so I had to be offered a new job due to my job being lost.. They offered me a 7 hr evening shift... So why can't they offer me the 7.5 hr day... Really .... Is there anything I can do ... When I can't work ...I can't work.. My job requires a lot of physical activity which when your having a bad bout of arthritis tree is nothing at work I can do ...please help!

Hi
Looking for some advice. I am a LPN working in a nursing home here in Nl. My trouble... I have pretty severe Rhemuatoid arthritis.. I was diagnosed in 2001 after suffering for a year or so... I'm 35 so not sure what to do.. Since suffering from Ra I have been put on the sick leave system at my workplace... My union has done very little and never fight for me... I was told there isnot much they can do as they agreed to this sick leave policy... Basically in a year we are allowed off sick 6 different times or so many hrs.... I have a disability with much documented evidence via my family dr and specialists. I keep working because financially I have to. For all sick leave I always bring in a medical certificate from my doctor. Last week I applied on a new job... After 13 yrs seniority I was denied the job because of my sick time. I called my union ..nothing they can do he told me.. First he said after 13 yrs u haven't sick time banked... No I said we'll not much I can do because they see you as unreliable... Even though all my sick time is due to my illness... The job I applied on it 7 more hrs then I work right now ....BUT ... It's only 7.5 hr shifts ..as opposed to a 12 I worked now... What really gets me is that we just lost a bunch of jobs so I had to be offered a new job due to my job being lost.. They offered me a 7 hr evening shift... So why can't they offer me the 7.5 hr day... Really .... Is there anything I can do ... When I can't work ...I can't work.. My job requires a lot of physical activity which when your having a bad bout of arthritis tree is nothing at work I can do ...please help!

Hi,

Have you requested a workplace accommodation for disability? I sense you've been trying to stay under the radar, which I understand perfectly. It sounds like you're not going to be able to do that much longer.

What you need to do is 'trigger' the duty to accommodate.
The way to do it without ruffling feathers would be to have a quick word with your supervisor saying you have a disability that you've been managing through sick days, but it's getting worse. Ask for a meeting with your supervisor and human resources. Tell them you want to meet first with your union to find out about this process and the various roles BEFORE you meet formally.

This puts your employer on notice that you are in a situation that requires accommodation, and that you're taking control of this.

Next.... unions. Sigh. Some great, some not so great eh? Find out who the union's 'equity' officer or human rights or disabled representative is - then set up an appointment to talk with them. Bypass the union reps on the ground - this situation becomes legal very fast they're not equipped to help you.

You're going to be asked for a lot of paperwork, doctors notes, assessments etc. Get organized - these can get out of hand. Especially if your employer is an ass and requests notes every time you sneeze or need time to go to the bathroom.

I would invite the union disability rep to your meeting instead of the local person. Go up that food chain!

Good luck and please let us know what happens.

If I were you I would also contact the local arthritis society for help and advice. You can bet someone else has gone through this before if that is any comfort. the Arthritis people can also write a letter to your employer supporting your request for different working arrangements etc. You just have to ask. Nice huh?

I am returning to work with restrictions. If my employer changes my duties in order to accomodate my illness, do they have the right to decrease my annual income? There is no union.

Hi, if the 'bundle' of jobs you are doing as a part of an accommodation are paid less, then yes they can pay you less.

I hate saying this (more than you can imagine) but in that situation you have to put yourself in their shoes. If you're paying Bob to run a machine at 30$ an hour and all Bob can do now is run the machine half the time and push a broom for the other half, then they will want to pay you less. They're not getting the same value of your labour.

It's not nice, but there it is.

That said, some employers are not very good people and will try to take advantage of this - they need to qualify any such decision. They need to be able to prove it. If you need to know how that is done please write back.

I suffer from an illness called Scleroderma. I have been on short term disability for aprox 3 months. I have the go ahead from my doctor to return to work with restrictions. Can my employer terminate me for not having the ability to climb ladders or lift anything over 5 pounds above my shoulders even though this was a large part of my job duties?

Hi again,

Forgot to mention that you may want to seriously consider looking into funded retraining.

Persons with disabilities are historically under educated and encounter barriers to education, therefore there is a lot of funding available to bridge this gap. You'll need to find someone knowledgeable about the programs and funding in your province. Last year the feds transferred over 200 million to the provinces for 'labour market agreements' for persons with disabilities.

This can be trade school, vocational rehab, college or university. There are grants, funded equipment (computers, assistive devices etc).

This is available to try and level the playing field, and wouldn't it be nice to be in school learning something you enjoy or love to do rather than at a job worried about being fired because you experience disability?

You will have enough to live on, including childcare if needed, a lot of it will be grants and some loans.

If you are unsure of what you want to do there is vocational counselling you can have. Skills and preferences matched to careers... that sort of thing. It feels good to pursue something positive and empowering for yourself and your future.

Oh, thank you Martin...I did not know this....I will look into it now....

My problem is till happening....it looks like I am going to run of sick time that I have saved for the past 32 years....then they will lay me off....

Nice Corporate company eh....after 32 years, they see you cannot perform you job duties....rather than help and advise me....they just want to get rid of me....

This not right, and I wish I could do something about it...the lawyers are too expensive...and I have not much time left...I guess I will have to look for some sort of job and go bankrupt...give it all up and go on welfare...nice way to end a career.....

Government is the one supports this activity.....I have been a faithful, hard working Federal employee for 32 years....and now they are going to get rid of me...shame, shame...
Harper;s new Government....don’t care about people....just budgeting and getting rid of all debts....
We are all doomed....God help us all....

Hi Carmine! Nice to hear from you. I'm never quite sure who I'm replying to with this layout :)

I take it the union hasn't put you in touch with one of their lawyers yet? Not okay. You've paid dues for how long? Add it up and remind them of the total if they try and palm you off.

Is your union ignoring you? Mine did too. You'd think they'd be all over these types of injustice, but you have to work to find someone with the willpower and pull to work for you.

I assume you're part of cupe? http://cupe.ca/nationalcommittees/disabilityworkingrou

2. Purposes of the committee

This Committee has the mandate to:

Promote and defend the rights of all persons with disabilities;
Promote and defend the principles of the Canadian Union of Public Employees;
Improve the working conditions of persons with disabilities in the workplace;

And here's the email for the head of that group: ckilfoil@cupe.ca

I did something similar in my union, went to the head of the human rights division, local stewards are only familiar with concepts, not how to make things happen for issues like this.

Start jumping over heads.... 'my local steward can't help me with this, I'm hoping someone with real life experience can help me navigate this' blah blah 'if that isn't you, who should I speak to, who is the lawyer for the union'.

Another tip - go see your doctor and ask for a psychiatric assessment. If you're anything like me, this is upsetting you greatly. You need to quantify it, and help yourself get better. I say quantify, because you will need to show in the near future that this isn't just a work issue, this is a quality of life issue and you're incurring real damages to your mental health, family relations, social life etc.

Later on you'll wish you had done this, and it's very nice to have someone really listen to you. go.

Have you filed an internal human rights grievance? As you are federally regulated, you cannot go directly to the human rights commission and have to exhaust the internal process first.

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