February 13, 2013
PSAC Federal Court victory on family status accommodation: what this means for you
The PSAC has won a ruling in Federal Court that employers must try to accommodate workers with childcare obligations.
The Federal Court last week upheld a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that employers cannot discriminate against employees with family obligations.
The ruling means that the employer has the obligation to find workable solutions on a case-by-case basis so that workers like Fiona Johnstone can balance work and family, to the point of undue hardship.
The PSAC assisted Fiona Johnstone with her human rights complaint against Canada Border Services Agency on April 23, 2004 when the Agency refused to accommodate her request for fixed shifts so she could arrange childcare. At the time both Johnstone and her husband were working rotating and irregular shifts. According to Johnstone, "I couldn't have taken on this battle against the CBSA all the way to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Federal Court without the support of my husband and certainly not without the legal and moral support of the PSAC. They gave me the courage to make my case that I was being discriminated against due to my family status.”
"I did this because I couldn't look at how wrong things were without being angry about it. I hope this decision will assist all families who need accommodation due to family circumstances."
What to do if you need accommodation
- Speak to your local union reps and your employer if you require any accommodation with your work schedule due to family responsibilities.
- Check the family leave provisions of your collective agreement.
- Speak to a union representative in your workplace, if you need help or more information.
This victory will have an impact in other workplaces
Uncontradicted evidence was led at the hearing that employee retention, recruitment and succession planning are crucial for Canadian government and businesses. Employers who have workable, flexible accommodation policies for employees with childcare demands will attract and keep the best employees. The alternative is low employee morale, increased use of sick leave and prescription drugs, increased absenteeism, high employee turnover and loss of corporate memory.
Although the Johnstone decision applies to the federal sector, other jurisdictions will undoubtedly consider it when making their own rulings on family status discrimination.
Family status accommodation, another PSAC win for working families!
Date Modified : 2013/04/23