News Release: The Manitoba Human Rights Commission

April 15, 2013

Workshop helps employers understand family status requests

A recent human rights decision reinforcing that employers are obliged to accommodate reasonable childcare requests has many employers asking about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to employees and their marital or family status. In response to the many questions received at the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, a two hour seminar on family status in the workplace will be offered to the public in April.

The decision, which reinforced that employers are obliged to accommodate reasonable childcare requests dealt with Fiona Johnstone who worked irregular shifts for the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA). She asked for "static" shifts that would allow her to plan child care arrangements. Her request was denied and she took her complaint of discrimination based on family status to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which decided in her favour. The CSBA appealed but lost again in a federal court.

In Manitoba’s Human Rights Code, employers are expected to consider requests for accommodation where the employee can demonstrate a special need based on their parental or family obligation.

"It is important for both employers and employees to realize that family status protection does not mean that the obligations of the employer are endless. The test is always "reasonableness," says Isha Khan, Legal Counsel for the Commission. "Employees cannot expect their employers to 'just figure out' an accommodation plan. The employee must take an active part."

Ms Khan adds that if an employer has actual proof (and not just assumptions) of undue hardship such as financial or specific requirements for the operation of the company, accommodation may not be possible. Ms Khan will be facilitating the workshop.

Families and the Workplace Workshop
Register online
Cost: $75.00
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
7th Floor – 175 Hargrave Street, Winnipeg,
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For more information please contact
Patricia Knipe
Communications Director
Manitoba Human Rights Commission
204-945-5112 (Direct Line)
1-888-8848681 (Toll Free)