The University as employer has a legal duty to take reasonable steps (“duty to accommodate”) an employee’s individual needs, as they relate to work, with respect to all grounds of discrimination covered under the Alberta Human Rights Act (race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation).
The Faculty Association will provide representation, at a member’s request, when that member is seeking accommodation. The Association’s goal is to ensure that members are supported throughout the process, that the process is consistent from one member to another, that members are treated fairly, and that members’ rights are respected under the Collective Agreement to the extent possible (collective agreements cannot prohibit an accommodation that is otherwise considered reasonable).
Most accommodation processes relate to disability (e.g. illness, injury or other disability, whether temporary or permanent and whether mental or physical). Accommodation may also be required for other reasons, for example timetabling exceptions due to childcare obligations (family status). If you are undertaking the accommodation process or are considering the accommodation process, please contact the Labour Relations Officer of the Faculty Association (*link*) for more information. The Faculty Association can provide confidential consultation, information, support and representation to members.
Collective Agreement Article 17.2 provides contractual medical leave rights for all faculty employees. For a medical leave of longer than five working days, or for chronic or persistent illness, the University will require medical documentation from a qualified practitioner. The University’s Human Resources department will also oversee a partial or full return to work process, including development of an accommodation plan where appropriate. The University’s Human Resources department will oversee these processes, including the application for Long-Term Disability (where eligible) at the end of the paid illness leave provisions when a full return to work is not possible, but members with questions or concerns should contact the Faculty Association, as described above. The Faculty Association can provide confidential consultation, information, support and representation throughout the entire process.
During the above processes, the employer will have some legitimate need to know some information. However, this is not without limitation. In the case of medical leave and disability-related accommodation, the development of an accommodation plan will require information from your qualified practitioner about medically-necessary restrictions and limitations. However, the employer is not automatically entitled to know the full details of your medical situation. Members are encouraged to consult with the Faculty Association in confidence.
The employer has a duty to accommodate to the point of “undue hardship”. Members who are concerned that their needs might not be accommodated, or that existing accommodations might be discontinued, due to a claim of undue hardship, should contact the Labour Relations Officer of the Faculty Association.