Case Alert: Alberta Employer Shows What Not to Do for Employees with Disabilities

A recent Alberta human rights decision provides a helpful reminder of what not to do when managing an employee with mental health disabilities.

In Euchner v. EZ Motors, 2022 AHRC 1111, the complainant began working as a mechanic for the employer in February 2017. The complainant stated that she advised the employer during her initial interview that she talks to herself and taps while working to manage ADHD and PTSD. The employer denied knowing this when it encouraged the complainant not to take prescribed medication and asked the complainant to stop talking while working.

The complainant went on a medical leave of absence in mid-June. Soon after, on June 23, 2017, the employer gave the complainant notice that when she returned to work, she would be given two week’s working notice of termination. She would also need to work without pay for those two weeks in order to “… complete repairs she screwed up […]”.   

The complainant filed and delivered a human rights complaint to the employer, on August 17, 2017. She alleged discrimination on the basis of her disability. Only days later, on August 23, 2017, the employer filed a complaint with the licensing body for mechanics about the complainant, which the complainant asserted was retaliation.

Not surprisingly, the Alberta Human Rights Commission (the “Tribunal”) agreed.  The Tribunal found that the termination of employment was discriminatory and the licensing body complaint was retaliatory and the complainant was awarded $30,000 in damages to dignity and self-respect for the initial discrimination complaint, an additional $20,000 for the retaliation complaint and an additional award for lost earnings.

Ultimately, this case serves to underline the benefits of having knowledgeable human resources and knowledgeable legal counsel in managing employees and responding to human rights complaints. Employers could be on the hook if and when the timelines, and rules aren’t followed or corners are cut.

It is a reminder that employers should be aware of their duty to accommodate, maintain credibility throughout any review process and maintain sound records and evidence.

PooranLaw will continue to monitor the ongoing legal developments related to cases like these. In the meantime, if you require legal assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer, or any member of our team.

Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and the article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.