All in the family: accommodating family status

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The applicant, Johnstone, worked for the Canadian Border Services Agency, and was denied full-time day shifts after returning from maternity leave. The court accepted that she was unable to find a workable childcare solution, and found the organization should have accommodated her on the grounds of family status.

The Tribunal found that the enumerated ground of “family status” includes parental childcare responsibilities, noting:

The freedom to choose to become a parent is so vital that it should not be constrained by the fear of discriminatory consequences…  For the employer, this means assessing situations such as Ms. Johnstone’s on an individual basis and working together with her to create a workable solution that balances her parental obligations with her work opportunities, short of undue hardship.

Other Caregiver Responsibilities

A recent Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decision also confirmed that employees with eldercare responsibilities are also protected from discrimination on the basis of family status.
In Devaney v. ZRV Holdings Limited, the applicant was an architect in charge of the Trump Tower project from 2005. He was also the primary caregiver for his mother, who ruptured her quadriceps tendon in 2008, leaving her incapacitated and unable to care for herself. The applicant placed his mother on a waiting list for a long-term facility but, in the interim, was only able to obtain part-time home care.

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