Know your disability employment rights

Graphic showing the title: Know your disability employment rights CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

The Ontario Human Rights Code and AODA (the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), are acts put in place to reduce barriers and prejudices that people with disabilities may face when entering the workforce.

One of the main misconceptions about a person with a disability is about whether or not they are equipped and “able” to competently perform the job. Discrimination for individuals with disabilities, visible or invisible, is often linked with “ableism.”

Research in this area has shown otherwise according to the Government of Canada website, which states that organizations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

The Fanshawe College and Here For You logos are shown. A young woman is smiling while using a laptop. Text states: Exam time can feel overwhelming. Let us help you succeed. We are here for you.

Things to know:

  • The code prohibits discrimination in all aspects in relation to employment including job applications, recruitment, training, promotions, business trips and off-site work events;
  • Employers should identify and remove barriers voluntarily instead of waiting to answer individual accommodation requests or complaints
Three key principles drive the duty to accommodate:

  1. 1. Respect for dignity;
  2. 2. Individualization;
  3. 3. Integration and full participation
A person who needs accommodation must:

  • Make accommodation needs known to the best of their ability, preferably in writing, so that the person responsible for accommodation can make the requested accommodation;
  • Answer questions or provide information about relevant restrictions or limitations, including information from health-care professionals;
  • Take part in discussions about possible accommodation solutions;
  • Meet agreed-upon performance standards and requirements, such as job standards, once accommodation is provided;
  • Work with the accommodation provider on an ongoing basis to manage the accommodation process
Employers must:

  • Accept the person’s request for accommodation in good faith;
  • Take an active role in ensuring that alternative approaches and possible accommodation solutions are investigated;
  • Keep a record of the accommodation request and action taken;
  • Communicate regularly and effectively with the person, providing updates on the status of the accommodation and planned next steps
It is also expected that employers maintain confidentiality, consult with the person to determine the most appropriate accommodation and implement those accommodations in a timely way, while bearing the cost of that accommodation.

Tracy MacCharles, former Ontario MP responsible for Accessibility in the province stated, “We want children and youth with disabilities to grow up confident in the knowledge that they can put their talents to work in our provincial economy of tomorrow. And we want adults of all ages and abilities to know there is a place for their insights and skills in Ontario businesses today.”

As a person with an acquired invisible disability, re-entering school and returning to the workforce, I know how important it is to have support and someone in your corner. Having these laws and codes means very little if they are not widely known, valued, and most importantly, implemented.