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Rights for all

The duty to accommodate

The duty to accommodate

The duty to accommodate

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To ensure the right to equality for all, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms This link will redirect you to an external website in a new window. makes it compulsory to follow-up on a request for reasonable accommodation in cases of discrimination based on disability, religion, sex or any other prohibited ground under Section 10 of the Charter. The duty to accommodate therefore is not limited to cases of discrimination based on religion, but applies in all situations of prohibited discrimination.

Accommodating a person may involve adapting a practice or a general operating rule or granting an exemption to a person facing discrimination and who makes such a request.

For example : During pregnancy, an employer allows a woman to work a "day shift" because her medical condition does not allow her to work at night.


The purpose of reasonable accommodation is to guarantee exercise of the right to equality. Employers and service providers therefore have a duty to actively find a solution allowing employees, clients or recipients to fully exercise their rights.

Find out more: Reasonable accommodation
 

The duty to accommodate: guidelines already exist

Clear guidelines already exist, that is to say, criteria for evaluating whether accommodation is reasonable or if there is undue hardship that would prevent an employer or a service provider from granting accommodation. This evaluation is based on the following criteria, developed by the courts over the course of 30 years:

  • The cost of the accommodation requested;
  • Its impact on the rights of others;
  • Its impact on the proper operation of an organization or business;
  • Its impact on the level of security to maintain within the organization or business.

Accommodation that compromises the right to equality, including equality of women and men, is considered unreasonable.


 Evaluation of undue hardship must be carried out using an individualized approach and always according to the particular circumstances of the case. There must be flexibility in applying the criteria. The fact that an accommodation creates "discomfort", "is bothersome", or "could create a precedent" does not constitute undue hardship.

For example : A manager refuses to allow an employee to take a day off for religious reasons because the request was made at the last minute and did not permit finding a replacement worker.

Furthermore, an individual requesting accommodation, whether an employee, a service recipient or a client, must collaborate in finding a solution. Reasonable accommodation does not guarantee a perfect solution for the person who makes the request. Depending on the context, it implies a reasonable compromise between the decision-maker and the person requesting accommodation.

 

Reasonable accommodation in everyday life: A few examples

A pregnant woman must miss work for a medical appointment. Her employer allows her to leave. This is reasonable accommodation

A disabled person who uses a wheelchair needs a work station adapted to her needs. The employer provides the woman with a work environment that meets her needs. This is reasonable accommodation

A computer technician who is a Seventh-day Adventist is prohibited by his religion from working Saturdays. His employer arranges his work schedule to allow him to have Saturdays off. The employee agrees to work Sundays instead. This is reasonable accommodation.

A childcare centre adapts its menu to take a young girl’s dietary restrictions into account. This is reasonable accommodation.

Unreasonable accommodation: A few examples

An individual who has a chronic illness and who is not able to return to work within a foreseeable timeframe asks him employer not to fill his job. This is an unreasonable accommodation request.

A disabled student who uses a wheelchair asks the university to have more time than others to write his exams. This is an unreasonable accommodation request.

A truck driver employed by a wine and spirits company asks not to deliver alcohol because of his religious convictions. This is an unreasonable accommodation request.

 

Enshrining in a law the duty to accommodate on the basis of religion, would lead to the proliferation of different rules regarding reasonable accommodation, and could cause confusion and become unmanageable.

This means that a Jewish person’s request to have his dietary restrictions taken into account (religion as a ground) could be denied, but an accommodation request from a man with allergies (disability as a ground) could be granted.

Did you know?

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse has an Advisory service on reasonable accommodation intended for employers, managers or any other person who receives accommodation requests from employees, recipients or clients.

 

For further information

...about reasonable accommodation or to respond to an accommodation request:

  • See our virtual guide for people called upon to respond to accommodation requests. The guide sheds light on the legal obligations pursuant to the Charter and suggests steps for evaluating the request.
  • Contact the Education-cooperation service whose members can provide training sessions on the duty to accommodate or any other question related to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the prohibited grounds of discrimination.
  • Refer to the pages on reasonable accommodation on the Commission website (in French only).

This information complements the Commission’s comments published on October 17, 2013.

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