Onus on employer to start accommodation: Court (Legal view)

B.C. Court of Appeal upholds tribunal’s finding pharmaceutical company should have gathered more information when it knew employee wanted to return to work
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/08/2011

When an employee with a disability was keen to come back to work, her employer should have investigated its options for accommodation rather than relying on limited information from a benefits provider, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled.

Lynda Kerr was a pharmaceutical sales representative in B.C. for Boehringer Ingelheim Canada (BIC), a German-owned supplier of pharmaceuticals based in Burlington, Ont. The position involved a lot of time on the computer and a significant amount of driving.

BIC hired Kerr in 1996 and she worked for three years until 1999, when she was diagnosed with cataracts. Doctors told Kerr the cataracts would cause her vision to deteriorate to the point that, within two years, she would hardly be able to see. As a result, in May 2000, Kerr told BIC she wanted to resign. BIC advised Kerr to apply for disability leave, which she did.