EMPLOYEES – CLAIMING YOUR MISCONDUCT IS DUE TO A DISABILITY (MENTAL HEALTH, ALCOHOLISM, etc.) MAY NOT SAVE YOU
This employee made threats againt co-workers. He was terminated. He sued for wrongful termination, claiming that his conduct was due to his dependency on alcohol (which is a recognized mental health disability). He claimed the employer discriminated against him under the Human Rights Code on the basis of his disability.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. The Court found that:
1. the employer did not know of his alcohol dependency when he was terminated; and
2. the employer’s decision was not based on the employee’s alcohol dependency, but rather on his inexcusable conduct in the workplace – the employer did not act arbitrarily or discriminatory in its decision.
Specifically, the Court of Appeal adopted this:
“I can find no suggestion in the evidence that Mr. Gooding’s termination was arbitrary and based on preconceived ideas concerning his alcohol dependency. It was based on his conduct that rose to the level of crime. That his conduct might have been influenced by his alcohol dependency is irrelevant if that admitted dependency played no part in the employer’s decision to terminate his employment and he suffered no impact for his misconduct greater than that another employee who suffered for the same misconduct.”
Therefore, it may not be enough for an employee to claim that a recognized disability caused, or contributed to, conduct in the workplace that would justify termination.
Case: Bellehumeur v. Windsor Factory Supply Ltd., 2015 ONCA 473 (CanLII)
This WARDS PC BLAWG is for general information only. It is not legal advice, or intended to be. Specific or more information may be necessary before advice could be provided for your circumstances.
September 11th, 2015
Posted in Labour & Employment