Family status accommodation has limits: Labour board

Employee’s request to aid spouse with children doesn’t mean legal duty
By Jeffrey Smith
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 05/15/2017

A federal government employee’s request to get home 30 minutes earlier to help his spouse care for special-needs children did not invoke a legal obligation to accommodate based on family status, the Canada Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board ruled.

Pascal Guilbault was a lawyer who was hired by the Department of National Defence (DND) in October 2011 to be a claims officer. The first few years of his tenure with DND went smoothly and he had a good relationship with his manager, who made it clear she was open to requests for flexibility to foster a positive work-life balance.

In January 2013, Guilbault emailed his manager with a “request for accommodation based on the Canadian Human Rights Act.” The request related to Guilbault’s family — his spouse had health problems and two of his four children had development difficulties.