Special needs assistant awarded general damages for discrimination, humiliation

Employer found to have failed to meet its duty to accommodate
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 05/24/2016

Karen Morrissey had worked for the Toronto District School Board for more than 27 years, spending more than 15 years as a special needs assistant.

In August 2013, she was found to have permanent restrictions, including an inability to walk long distances, kneel or crouch. Morrissey was accommodated for two years, given access to an electric lift when supporting students in wheelchairs and trading duties with other special needs assistants when the demands of the position exceeded her limitations.

On April 30, 2015, Morrissey submitted an updated list of restricted activities that included any bending or twisting of her knees. In June 2015, the employer indicated Morrissey would need to be moved to another assignment as the incoming class of students included “runners” and those with “toileting issues.” Morrissey’s restrictions could create safety concerns with these new students.