Driver’s licence a requirement for job driving patients: Arbitrator

Hospital met duty to accommodate by giving him alternate duties while injured and driver's licence was legitimate requirement for regular duties

An Ontario hospital did not discriminate against an employee when it required a valid driver’s licence for him to continue in his regular job driving patients, the Ontario Arbitration Board has ruled.

James McMahon was a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ont. As part of his duties assisting patients, he drove them to and from their appointments. However, after multiple accidents outside of work in early 2007, McMahon returned to work but had a no driving restriction because of his injuries. St. Joseph’s accommodated him by giving him duties other than driving patients.

After two months of restricted duties, on May 16, 2007, McMahon was cleared to resume the full duties, including driving patients. St. Joseph’s asked him to produce a valid driver’s licence prior to his returning to full duties, as his job required a valid Class G licence for the driving part of his duties.

McMahon said he wasn’t ready to use his own car to drive patients around and his resumption of his old duties was held off. After some discussion on possibly providing him with a car, St. Joseph’s send him a letter on Aug. 3, 2007, requesting to see a valid driver’s licence by Aug. 31. In the letter, St. Joseph’s made a point of saying a valid driver’s licence was a condition of his employment. It warned if he didn’t produce a copy of a valid licence, his employment would be in jeopardy. The letter was placed in McMahon’s employee file.

McMahon claimed the letter threatened his employment on the basis of his disability and because of it St. Joseph’s discriminated against him. At a meeting on Sept. 12, he told St. Joseph’s he had epilepsy, which made it difficul to receive a driver’s licence. St. Joseph’s reiterated that having a licence was a legitimate job requirement and that was why it was reviewing his employment, not his disability. It also said it wasn’t aware of his epilepsy, which brought concerns of liability if he continued to drive patients.

A couple of weeks later, McMahon presented proof he had received a valid driver’s licence. St. Joseph’s said it was prepared to remove the warning letter from his employment file, but McMahon filed a grievance for discrimination.

The arbitrator found though McMahon had disclosed his epilepsy when he started working for the health service, that information hadn’t been passed on when St. Joseph’s took over and McMahon became its employee. It also found St. Joseph’s had met its duty to accommodate when it gave him alternate duties while he was injured, and it also had a duty to esnure its patients were being driven by someone who could legally drive. Therefore, it did not discriminate against McMahon has a valid driver’s licence was a legitimate job requirement. Also, since St. Joseph’s had agreed to remove the letter from his file once he was legally able to drive, there were no further obstacles to McMahon resuming his full duties. The arbitrator dismissed the grievance. See St. Joseph’s Health Care London v. O.P.S.E.U., Local 152, 2008 CarswellOnt 8027 (Ont. Arb. Bd.).

Latest stories