Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Ontario Disability Discrimination Case That Never Happened

And a ... Child Shall Lead Them

I have a young, single, female second cousin here in Ontario, who is 21 years of age, and since birth has had a disabling disease called Epidermolysis bullosa (EB). EB "is a rare genetic disease characterized by the presence of extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation, resulting from minor mechanical friction or trauma. This condition is not contagious", as quoted from the Debra of America Inc. website.

When she breaks out in blisters usually on her feet and/or hands it can be uncomfortable for her, but it is at worst going to limit what she does from a timing perspective, more than whether she can accomplish things that she wants to do ever. Over the years she has learned to live with it, and as with many people, it does not define her in a negative way, but has helped her to strengthen things about her that are endearing and charming.

Her mother, a Registered Nurse and her father, raised her to think for herself and to look past her own and other people's disabilities.

This young lady was working as a server in a well known chain roadhouse style restaurant here in London, Ontario, and had blistering break out on her hands. These blisters look like the ones you or I would get from raking or shoveling or some form of exertion. Hers come more easily than that, and she gets more than one, so they can become obvious. The manager must have had a complaint from a customer about her hands, because he sent her home from her shift and told her not to return until she was bandaged up. Subsequently, he fired her because of her blisters. Her work had always been of a high calibre, and her outgoing personality lends itself to work as a server.

Another relative, familiar with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, suggested that she could have a case for discrimination on the basis of disability, and from my knowledge of the facts, this is probably true.

The young lady and her parents, realising this, decided that there was no real purpose to such a complaint. Yes, she might have ended up with some money in the end. Would the manager have been forced to take her back? She did not want to go back there after this incident. Did she want to bring stress to her former place of employment and her former co-workers because she had been discriminated? Again to what purpose. To prove that she was right. She knew she was and that the manager was wrong, and did not feel the need to rub his nose in it, nor to be the one to bring him down a peg. She had learned already in life that things work out for the best given time. She also did not need to go through a series of investigative interviews and hearings to come to the conclusion that she knew was right already.

So, she moved on with her life. She was approached by another smaller chain of restaurants to work for them which was flattering, and she went to the job interview. She was about to be offered the job, when she said: "Hold it for a minute. I want to tell you a story first, and then you can decide if you want to hire me after that."

She then proceeded to tell them about the incidents from her previous employment, including names and dates, and that that was not acceptable to her. She was eager to work for the new restaurant, but would not be subjected to treatment like the last restaurant. She did not threaten to file a claim with the HRC if they mistreated her. She just told them her expectations.

On hearing her story they were appalled at the previous manager's behaviour, and hired her immediately. Since she has been working for them, they have worked hard to accommodate her needs, and she is prudent to not abuse their accommodation.

You see, she did not need to fix the first guy. She needed to learn to look after her own needs, rather than have the state look after them for her.

She did not need the Human Rights Commission. She saved the taxpayers of Ontario a potload of money that would have gone to investigate this. She saved the first restaurant and its manager a potload of money trying to fight her claim, and she did not have to wait 3-5 years for resolution. She got her resolution within days.

Chuck Swindoll, a well known preacher and motivational speaker says: "It is attitude not aptitude that determines altitude."

Good for you, Lizzie.


Anonymous said...

It is great that this women eventually found a great place to be employed. However, the purpose of a human rights investigation is not limited to that individual (the young women in this case). Instead it involves all members of society, those who have a disability and those who would discriminate against them.

I do believe that each indivdual should do what is best for them but feel the ones that should be applauded are the ones who are willing to go through that grueling human rights investigation process to hold people accountable for discrimination.

This article seems to suggest that rolling over rather than standing up is what is the way to that point I would have to disagree.

But I would still agree with the last line "Good for you, Lizzie"!!

mbrandon8026 said...

There is no gruelling humsn rights investigation process for the Complainant. It is only gruelling and expensive for the Respondent.

I have a disability. Today, I cannot leave my house because of it. With my disability it is not practical for places of work, or institutions to accommodate me. I don't need them to accommodate me, and I do not need to play victim because they don't or can't. I don't even intend to tell them that I am disabled.

I would rather live my life as free as I can than be a victim.

To think that the government is any "victim's" friend is a fallacy. The HRCs run a sausage making machine, not a justice machine, and it stacks up rights as it makes them up and as it chooses, so that my rights as a disabled person would trump my rights as a Christian. I refuse to give them the chance.

Anonymous said...


Asserting your rights is a far cry from becoming a victim and I would argue It is empowering. The Duty to Accommodate only extends so far. And if you simply can't work then of course they cannot accommodate you.

I am stunned that you, as a disabled person could be anti-HRC(now HRT) they advocate on behalf of individuals who are routinely discriminated against in all aspects of society, especially employment. I am working with a woman who has a disability and was fired for taking 6 month Medical Leave of Absence to receive treatment and to recuperate...yes fired for being disabled. Instead of rolling and 'living her life' she is standing up for her rights and demanding to be treated fairly. This women works with people with disabilities, and so do I, and find her determination inspiring. She is standing on principle. And this process is gruelling when you have the issues to deal with that she has. The way you talk of it being gruelling for the Respondents makes me think that you were one. I am glad it is exhausting to those who would strip the rights and dignity from the disabled Canadians.
I would think that someone with a disability would condemn the businesses and individuals who rob others of their Human Rights. Keep in mind that HRC stands for Human Rights Commission or as it is now referred to the Human Rights Tribunal. Instead of targeting them for trying to protect Canadians from Human Rights Violations why not call out the people who are continuing to discriminate against the disabled and other groups.

Don’t Shut Up....Stand UP!!!!

mbrandon8026 said...


Your comments warranted a separate post, which I have put up this morning.

I may not agree with you, but I value your comments, and have chosen to give you the opportunity to express your thoughts here on my blog.

If you have specifics of a case where the HRT is doing a good job for your friend, I will publish it, and will protect the name of the Claimant, if desired.

As a disabled person, I am interested in the trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs of other disabled persons.

Thank you for your time