The golden rule is that discipline should not be discriminatory. This means that an employee should not suffer negative consequences due to any protected human rights grounds such as their race, their sexual orientation, their gender identity or expression, or of course disability.
This means exactly that – an employer should not be penalizing employees based on the grounds of their disability. We’ll often think of obvious examples, such as how it would be ridiculous to punish a visually impaired employee who could not read a computer screen easily, or how one would not punish an employee who uses a wheelchair from being unable to climb a flight of stairs.
Yet this sort of discrimination can be much more subtle. Millions of adults suffer from a variety of learning disabilities, mental challenges and addictions which can impact their work subtly, such as how they comprehend directions, or how they perform a task. Human rights laws require employers to accommodate these disabilities to the point of undue hardship, which can mean offering instructions or guidance in a different format to help these employees succeed. Failing to do so, and then penalizing the employees for struggling, is an act of bad faith.
The catch though is that an employer needs to know about the need for accommodation in order to accommodate properly. Employers are not entitled to a diagnosis, but they do need to work with the employee, and potentially their physicians as well, in order to come up with solutions that work. Otherwise, if an employer does not know about an employee’s challenges, then they may issue discipline without knowing that the issue is related to a disability.