[nagdu] Canada: Accommodating The Use Of A Seeing-Eye Dog: APrecedent-Setting Decision

Star Gazer pickrellrebecca at gmail.com
Fri Sep 13 17:59:58 UTC 2013

Serious question, but what exactly does interfering with a guide dog mean?
When does it cross the line from a pain in the butt encounter which we've
all had to interference? 

-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Doug Parisian
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:05 AM
To: NAGDU Mailing List, the National Association of Guide Dog Users
Subject: Re: [nagdu] Canada: Accommodating The Use Of A Seeing-Eye Dog:
APrecedent-Setting Decision

Too bad that the name of the offender was not provided.  Further, it seems
that the victim owns some responsibility for not taking more immediate and
directive action.  Some bloody care facility!

In my province of Manitoba, we have a model of legislation which the rest of
the country, and the US as well, would do well to study and emulate.  In
sum, it is punishable by serious fines of up to $25,000 if anyone should
interfere in any way with a service animal without specific permission from
the master; and anyone is able to report such interference.  I had already
twice sent this legislation to this list so I'm sure some of you activists
out there have examined it?.

Doug: what a sorry tail!

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ginger Kutsch" <GingerKutsch at yahoo.com>
To: "NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users" 
<nagdu at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 9:42 AM
Subject: [nagdu] Canada: Accommodating The Use Of A Seeing-Eye Dog: 
APrecedent-Setting Decision

: Canada: Accommodating The Use Of A Seeing-Eye Dog: A Precedent-Setting
: Decision
: Last Updated: September 9 2013
: By Audrey Murray
: Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
: modating+The+Use+Of+A+SeeingEye+Dog+A+PrecedentSetting+Decision
: In a ruling handed down by Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal late last month,
: an employer who had refused to allow a blind employee to use a seeing-eye
: dog in the workplace was ordered to pay the now-former employee $7,605 in
: damages.1
: Facts
: The plaintiff, a massage therapist who has suffered from a degenerative
: sight condition since the age of 17, was working at a care centre offering

: massage therapy service. When she was interviewed for the job, she said 
: would soon be getting a seeing-eye dog, and the employer told her they 
: figure out a solution at that time. In the months after she was hired, she
: told her employer she had to temporarily suspend her availability so she
: could attend training given by the Mira Foundation for the purpose of
: getting her seeing-eye dog.
: Upon completing her training, the plaintiff advised her employer that her
: seeing-eye dog would have to accompany her at work. Citing reasons that
: included another employee's fur allergy, odours and a lack of available
: space, the employer refused to allow the seeing-eye dog in the
: establishment. The plaintiff proposed a solution: she would work in blocks
: of no more than four hours while leaving her seeing-eye dog at home. The
: employer accepted the solution, but when the plaintiff contacted the Mira
: Foundation, she was told that her seeing-eye dog could not be left alone 
: could only be separated from its master in exceptional circumstances. She
: notified her employer that the solution she had proposed was unfeasible. 
: that point, the employer stopped giving her any work hours. The plaintiff
: understood this to mean that the employer was not going to let her come to
: work with her seeing-eye dog. She consequently filed a complaint with
: Quebec's Human Rights Commission (Commission).
: During the hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal (Tribunal), the
: plaintiff said she would have wanted her seeing-eye dog with her at work, 
: a suitably located cage. In its defence, the employer contended, among 
: things, that it had never refused to allow the plaintiff to come to work
: with her seeing-eye dog and that, on the contrary, the service agreement 
: been terminated by the employee before there was an opportunity to find a
: workable solution.
: Decision
: The Tribunal rejected the employer's argument, among others, that section 
: of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms2 (Charter) did not apply to 
: plaintiff because she was a self-employed worker. That section reads as
: follows:
: 16. No one may practise discrimination in respect of the hiring,
: apprenticeship, duration of the probationary period, vocational training,
: promotion, transfer, displacement, laying-off, suspension, dismissal or
: conditions of employment of a person or in the establishment of categories
: or classes of employment.
: The Tribunal maintained that the Charter had to be given a broad, generous
: and liberal interpretation to provide ongoing protection of individual
: rights and freedoms. It also pointed out that section 16 covers more than
: the situation of employees within the meaning of labour law. Moreover, in
: analyzing the terms of the contract between the parties, the Tribunal
: concluded that the plaintiff appeared to have very limited autonomy in
: performing her job: the work relationship was therefore more akin to an
: employment relationship.
: The Tribunal then had to determine whether the employer had violated the
: plaintiff's rights, dignity and right to full and equal treatment by not
: allowing her to be accompanied by a seeing-eye dog in the workplace. The
: Tribunal found that the Commission had demonstrated, on a balance of
: probabilities, that the employer had failed to accommodate the plaintiff,
: who had wanted to be accompanied at work by her seeing-eye dog. The 
: also found that requiring a visually impaired person to leave her 
: dog at home for a four-hour period could not be considered reasonable
: accommodation.
: As for the employer's concerns that the seeing-eye dog might misbehave and
: that some people were allergic or afraid of the dog, the Tribunal argued
: that the Mira Foundation was available to reassure staff and help 
: the seeing-eye dog, but had not been contacted by the employer. The 
: also concluded that the employer had violated the plaintiff's right to
: dignity by contravening section 4 of the Charter-the plaintiff had 
: that she had felt rejected, betrayed and abused.
: Orders
: The Tribunal ordered the employer to pay the plaintiff $1,105 in
: compensation for lost pay and $6,500 in moral damages. This is the first
: time the Tribunal has ruled in a matter of job discrimination based on the
: use of a seeing-eye dog. In case law, moral damages awarded to individuals
: who are blind range, on average, from $1,000 to $3,000. However, those
: decisions are different in that they concern refusals of access to public
: places and, consequently, time-limited, one-time events, whereas, in this
: instance, the situation took place over a period of two months. Also, in 
: case at issue, the person was not accommodated and was deprived of the 
: to earn her living honourably-an element essential to her autonomy and
: dignity. The Tribunal therefore awarded a larger amount.
: As for punitive damages, the Tribunal ruled that they were not warranted 
: this situation as there was nothing to show that the employer had intended
: to discriminate or had been negligent within the meaning of the applicable
: case law.
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