British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests has no duty to accommodate a firefighter who suffers from Crohn’s disease, the B.C. Arbitration Board has ruled
The province made attempts to accommodate the worker’s disability with an alternate position. A dispatcher job was offered to him, but a job requirement was being able to type 40 words per minute. He was only able to achieve 15 to 23 words per minute. The worker was also not very interested in that position as it was a lesser rate of pay and would require him to move.
The arbitrator said accommodating the worker in a firefighting role would cause the employer undue hardship. It simply wasn’t possible for the employer to reduce its safety standards by providing the worker duties which would allow him to sidestep attendance at the fire line for firefighting duties.
“I am not unmindful of the contribution the (worker) has made to the employer in past years, and I recognize that his disability is a source of distress, made more so by the loss of employment that he enjoyed and was good at,” the arbitrator said in dismissing his grievance. “However, I am satisfied that the employer has demonstrated that an accommodation cannot be made on an individual basis … given that the safety of the employees and the public must be of paramount consideration.”
For more information see:
• British Columbia Public Service Agency v. B.C.G.E.U., 2006 CarswellBC 2093 (B.C. Arb. Bd.).
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