If you have a disability and work in The Bahamas, you have important employment rights that you need to understand. Being aware of your employer's duty to accommodate you could be the difference between working and being out of a job. If you are an employer, then you need to learn about the accommodation requirements too. Knowing your duties could help you avoid a lawsuit.
Recent Court Case Highlights Need to Accommodate Disabled Employees
A recent court case considered the question of how much an employer must do to accommodate a disabled employee. In the case, a disabled employee's employment with a large resort was terminated after she told the resort about her medical restrictions. The resort, instead of trying to find her alternative work that she was able to do within one of its many departments, placed her on leave and then terminated her for “partial disability”.
The employee could not work at night, could not lift heavy objects, and could not stand for long periods of time. As a result, the resort claimed that it could not find a post for the employee because of her medical restrictions. The Industrial Tribunal and Court of Appeal, however, disagreed with the resort and upheld the employee's wrongful dismissal claim.
Undue Hardship: The Limits on Accommodation for Disabilities
In its opinion, the Court of Appeal emphasized that employers do not have to accommodate employees if doing so would be an undue hardship. They have to make “all possible efforts” to find a disabled employee an alternative position, unless installing the employee in that position would unduly burden the employer.
Both the Industrial Tribunal and the Court of Appeal disagreed that it would be an undue hardship for the large resort with multiple locations to find the employee an alternative position. They rejected the resort's argument that the employment agreement with the employee was frustrated because of her disability.
This case highlights the increasing burden on employers to accommodate people with disabilities if they are able to do so without undue hardship. For employees, it emphasizes the need to stand up for your rights if you become disabled and want to stay at your current workplace.
To find out more about disability rights in employment in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
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