How far does my employer need to go to make things work?

Human rights law requires employers to accommodate to the point of what is known in law as ‘undue hardship.’ Human rights commissions have defined this as a fairly high threshold – employers cannot refuse to accommodate simply because something will be difficult or inconvenient. Employers will need to accommodate unless doing so would be detrimental to the business.

Take for instance the ramp vs. the elevator. If a business hires an employee who uses a wheelchair, then a ramp is likely the perfect solution to make the business accessible. If the barrier to enter the premises is fairly small, there are several wooden ramp options available at low cost which can benefit both that employee and other patrons alike. However, if a small business is operating in a two-storey building that does not have an elevator, the cost of installing such an elevator would likely be a significant burden for the business, and would create an undue hardship.

The good news is that most accommodations can be made at little or even no cost to the employer, often with the help of ingenuity and community resources. Changes in scheduling for example may present an inconvenience, but rarely will they create an actual undue hardship on a business.