Litigation Specific Issues
The employee needs to communicate more than a desire to return to work. The employee must demonstrate ability to return to work to trigger the duty to accommodate. The court found that the employer was correct to treat the relationship as being frustrated, when the employee did not supply twice requested medical information.
Discuses a case where a medical resident was terminated from his residency, in part due to his disability and the tribunal awarded a significantly larger general damages award than the usual range. The author of the article opins that this should be standard in respect to large organizations, otherwise it is merely a licensing fee to discriminate.
Discusses a recent case were the Court held extension of an employee’s long term disability benefits was sufficient for the employer to conclude there was no reasonable likelihood that the employee would return to work in the foreseeable future, thus concluding the contract was frustrated as the employee could no longer perform its employment responsibilities due to the unforeseen situation.
Court held that employer only had to show that there is “enough evidence” to conclude there is no reasonable likelihood of the employee returning in a reasonable period, instead of the previous standard required evidence of permanent disability and the employer was not required to make further inquiries but could rely on the documentation it had received to conclude the employment contract was frustrated.
Article discusses that in rare circumstances reinstatement may be the remedy of choice: where the employer is large and sophisticated, the employee can be placed in an equivalent position but with a different supervisor, and the work is specialized and the employee’s carrier would end without reinstatement do to no other career opportunities.
Article discusses distinctions between innocent and culpable absenteeism and when employees can be terminated for chronic absenteeism, requirements of an employer attendance management plan and distinguishes counselling from progressive discipline.
Article reviews some recent cases were significantly higher awards were granted than typical and much longer periods of backpay, over 10 years’ worth, than would be awarded in courts for similar wrongful termination. In one case the tribunal also ordered reinstatement, equalization of pension and CPP and reimbursement for out of pocket medical expenses. In another case a significant $512,000 in future wages.
Court awarded damages for breach of human rights in addition to damages for failure to provide reasonable notice. Held that the employees injury was at least part of the reason for termination and therefore the employee had been discriminated against as well the employer was disingenuous at times failing in its duty to act fairly in dismissing an employee.
The court held the employer could conclude there was no reasonable likelihood of the employee returning to work within a reasonable period of time, based on the extension of Long Term Disability Benefits. Being on Long Term Disability Benefits does not preclude an employee from being terminated for being absent.
The article provides a useful canvass of the junction of long term disability insurance and human rights obligations. It points out insures duties and potential grounds of possible liability (breach of contract in the accommodation process, participation or complicity in discrimination, breach of the duty to act in good faith).