The Alberta Human Rights Act requires that employers accommodate employees with special needs and limitations. Examples of employees who might require reasonable accommodation include those with physical or mental disabilities or special needs related to gender or religion. Employers are required to make exceptions or adjustments to work environments, procedures, rules and standards.
Reasonable accommodation is determined by the needs per case, as different employees may have different disabilities. For example, workers in wheelchairs will need different accommodations than employees whose religion requires scheduled breaks at specific times to allow them to pray. Workers with mental or physical disabilities may need adjusted work schedules to accommodate their unique needs.
Employers may only exclude workers from jobs that require specific abilities like driving heavy vehicles or handling heavy boxes. Employers are required to make significant efforts to accommodate, even if it involves spending money. However, when these changes cause undue hardship for the business or other employees, there might be valid reasons for not providing accommodation.
Employers who are accused of failure to provide reasonable accommodation may need to consult with a lawyer who has experience in the employment and human rights laws of Alberta. Some employers are proactive to avoid legal claims. They seek the support and guidance of experienced lawyers to help them determine the needs for accommodation and how to deal with each worker’s unique needs. Similarly, employees with special needs who believe their employers refused to provide accommodation might have questions about their legal rights. Both employers and employees are entitled to seek legal counsel to learn about their rights and legal options to resolve any related problems.