An employer’s breach of its procedural duty to accommodate was a significant factor in the decision to uphold a human rights application in Sears v Honda of Canada Mfg., 2014 HRTO 45. The employee, whose job it was to spot vehicle defects on a computer screen, began to experience increasingly serious performance issues due to vision problems. The problems had been evident for more than a year before the employer took measures to accommodate him. When he sought additional assistance, he was terminated.

The termination was found to have been motivated at least in part by the employee’s perceived dissatisfaction with the employer’s accommodation efforts and by his assertion of his rights under the Human Rights Code. The Tribunal found that the employer was aware, from the employee’s initial employment application and his subsequent performance difficulties and requests for assistance, that his colour blindness and myopia were causing problems. The employer breached its procedural duties when it failed to make inquiries about his need for accommodation in these circumstances, despite the absence of a formal request from the employee.

The employer’s absence of a clear policy addressing accommodation and the process involved to attain it was a contributing factor to the ultimate termination, as was the employer’s failure to investigate the employee’s discrimination complaints and its failure to adhere to the accommodation plan eventually put in place. The employer was held liable for compensation of $35,000 for the employee’s intangible loss and was directed to hire a professional to draft an accommodation policy.