Case Report – Order to attend assessment following employee’s aggressive outburst not discriminatory

19 Mar

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal for the Yukon Territory affirmed a decision of a Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication. The Board had held that an employer did not discriminate against an employee with a bipolar condition by suspending him pending a medical assessment. It held that the employer ordered the assessment based on an observation of objectively concerning behavior rather than on any stereotypical assumptions about the employee’s disability:

Whether Mr. March’s conduct was disruptive and inappropriate or not was a question of fact. The evidentiary facts were largely undisputed and the primary task of the Board was to resolve the conflicting interpretations and decide whether Mr. March’s conduct was disruptive and inappropriate. The issue involved an individualized assessment of particular facts. The Board heard the evidence and concluded that Mr. March’s conduct was disruptive and inappropriate and the respondents acted reasonably in the circumstances in removing him from the workplace pending a medical assessment. The action taken was temporary and responsive to the disruptive conduct and not an arbitrary reaction attributable to a discriminatory stereotyping of his disability. Instead, it was directed to ascertaining the cause of his conduct, and deciding how it should be addressed.

Though employers do have a general right to request medical information in circumstances similar to those demonstrated in this case, the employer here had accommodated the employee for years and further helped its case by making a genuine expression of continued support for the employee at the same time as making its direction.

March v. Yukon (Human Rights Board of Adjudication), 2010 YKCA 3.

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