What is the Duty to Accommodate?

Employers and service providers have an obligation to adjust rules, policies or practices to enable you to participate fully. It applies to needs that are related to the grounds of discrimination. This is called the duty to accommodate.

The duty to accommodate means that sometimes it is necessary to treat someone differently in order to prevent or reduce discrimination. For examples, asking all job applicants to pass a written test may not be fair to a person with a visual disability. In such cases, the duty to accommodate may require that alternative arrangements be made to ensure that a person or group can fully participate.

Examples of Duty to Accommodate

  • Providing a special screen and software for people with visual impairment
  • Allowing an employee to take time off to attend a medical appointment
  • Managing an employee’s schedule in a way that balances their work and caregiving obligations
  • Making wheelchair access available to people with disabilities

 

What is Undue Hardship?

It is also important to consider that there is a reasonable limit to how far your employer or service provider has to go to accommodate your needs. Sometimes accommodation is not possible because it would cost too much, or create health or safety risks. This is known as undue hardship. Your employer or service provider can claim undue hardship as the reason why certain policies or practices need to stay in place, even though they may have a negative effect on you. They will need to provide sufficient evidence.

Example of Undue Hardship

A pilot for a small airline develops a medical condition that limits his peripheral vision. Because of his condition, he is no longer allowed to fly planes. The airline has very few employees, and there are no other jobs to offer him. The employer could argue that keeping the pilot on their payroll would cause undue hardship, and that letting him go is their only option.