Duty to Accommodate: A PSAC Guide for Local Representatives

The duty to accommodate is an essential principle in our approach to human rights. 

Due to a Supreme court of canada decision (British Columbia (PSERC) v. British Columbia Government and Services Employees’ Union, also known as “Meiorin”) in September 1999, this concept has been radically changed in a very positive way.

Previously, the duty to accommodate meant the right of a group or individual to have a speciic situation modiied in a manner that did not change the basic elements of the situation, but did allow the group or individual to fully operate within that situation. In the workplace, reasonable accommodation involved speciic legal rights and responsibilities and was a reactive response to individual or group discrimination. employers, and unions, were legally required to take reasonable actions to eliminate the efects of employment practices or rules that discriminated against individuals or groups on the basis of a prohibited ground, such as race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation and so on.
The Meiorin decision is the point of reference or benchmark for any duty to accommodate analysis. the Meiorin decision broadened that deinition to place a positive obligation on employers to design workplace standards and requirements so that they do not discriminate (i.e., the employer must take proactive action to ensure these standards and requirements are not discriminatory).