Disability in the Workplace: Your Rights
During your employment, you may experience an illness or suffer an accident that impacts your ability to work.
If you are still able to work but require a more accessible workplace, your employer has a duty to accommodate your request in order to avoid a human rights violation.
If your disability prevents you from carrying out your work duties entirely for a short period or long period of time, you may be eligible for financial compensation through your employer-provided insurance benefits program.
How Insurance Companies Operate
When you buy insurance, you are buying “peace of mind.” At least that is what most of us think when we think of insurance, be it auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, travel insurance, and so on.
The reality is that while insurance companies sell “peace of mind”, their objective, like most companies, is to make money. They make money by selling this product and they make money by not paying for claims. The result is that many people who thought they had valid coverage find themselves having their long term disability claims denied or “investigated” for prolonged periods of time. Instead of getting protection, they get conflict, stress and sleepless nights.
The question is: What can a person do when their long term disability claim is denied, or when they are told that their claim is “under investigation.”
Long Term Disability Claims
Strict Time Limitations
The time limitations for starting a lawsuit against an insurer is strict. Many people are often uninformed of what these timelines are and will miss them as a result. Missing a limitation period means your insurer no longer has to pay your claim and you lose your right to sue them.
People generally come to us for one of the following reasons:
- The claim is taking a very long time to resolve;
- The adjuster on their file continues to ask for more and more information and documentation, some of which may seem irrelevant;
- They are told that their file was transferred to SIU (Special Investigations Unit); or
- Their claim has been denied.
These are all red flags, if you experience any of these situations, you should immediately consult a lawyer.
Employer’s Duty to Accommodate
When an employee is unable to perform his or her job as a result of a disability (either physical or psychological) the employer must provide assistance to the employee. A worker in Ontario or British Columbia has a right to be accommodated in the workplace. This may mean changing the job requirements, providing someone to help the employee perform job duties, or making changes to shifts.
The employer’s duty to accommodate also extends situations where an employee is unable to perform their duty due to religious reasons, because of childcare, or due to other constraints.
Find out more about the duty to accommodate here.
If you have not been provided with proper accommodation, or your employer has declined to provide you with accommodation for whatever reason, the team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can help. These issues can often be easily resolved. Contact us to find out how we can assist.
More About Workplace DisabilitiesExplore some of our past blogs and episodes from the Employment Law Show related to workplace accommodation in Ontario and British Columbia.
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