Thursday, April 17, 2008

Canadian "human rights" again: The burdens of being an employer in Canada

How to discourage people from employing anyone. No wonder unemployment is higher in Canada than in the USA

In Canada, human rights legislation provides that employers have a duty to accommodate disabled workers unless such accommodation would cause "undue hardship" on the employer. A recent case involving McDonald's Restaurants before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal illustrates the high standard of accommodation expected of employers. It also shows the kinds of proactive measures employers may have to take before accommodation is considered "undue hardship." In the case, the tribunal found that McDonald's improperly terminated the employment of a long-time employee. McDonald's didn't do enough to accommodate the employee who developed a skin condition that prevented her from working and meeting the restaurant's hand-washing policy.

Beena Datt started working at McDonald's within three months of moving to Canada in 1981. After working at the same restaurant for 20 years, she developed a skin condition. As a result, over the next three years, she was unable to work for long periods of time. She was on disability benefits and unsuccessfully attempted to return to work three separate times. She tried various treatments as well as working with gloves, but nothing helped. She was always eager to return to work. Ms. Datt's doctor eventually stated that she couldn't work in a restaurant. McDonald's then terminated her employment. To support the termination, McDonald's argued that:

* it has strict hand-washing policies to meet health and food safety requirements;

* restaurant employees work as a team, and all positions must help out as needed;

* it had accommodated three lengthy absences and return-to-work attempts;

* and the employee's own doctor had determined that she couldn't work in a restaurant.

McDonald's claimed that it had therefore met its duty to accommodate Ms. Datt and that the termination wasn't in breach of the B.C. Human Rights Code since allowing her to come back to work would cause them "undue hardship." The tribunal didn't accept McDonald's' arguments and found that the company had breached its duty to accommodate Ms. Datt's disability.

Since Ms. Datt no longer wanted to work for McDonald's, the tribunal didn't order reinstatement. But she was awarded damages of $55,000. The damages included lost wages and profit sharing, extra compensation for the tax effect of a lump-sum payment, reimbursement of some expenses, and $25,000 for injury to "dignity, feelings, and self-respect." Also, the tribunal noted that, if she had provided expert evidence about her employability and earnings potential, she could have been awarded an amount for future wage loss as well. The tribunal's decision was based on several key findings:

* While the doctor had said she couldn't work in a restaurant, he had never been provided with job descriptions or summaries of job duties for the different jobs in the restaurant.

* McDonald's relied on its disability insurance provider's assessment, but the insurer had never been fully informed of the jobs at McDonald's.

* There was no true functional assessment of Ms. Datt's capacity to meet job requirements.

* The doctor said that Ms. Datt couldn't tolerate "frequent" hand-washing and that she was to have "minimal detergent and water contact," but McDonald's didn't inquire about how often she could wash her hands or what level of detergent and water contact was acceptable.

* There was no real attempt to see if any alternative work or modified duties were available for Ms. Datt and no direct contact by McDonald's to discuss returning to work. For example, McDonald's didn't explore the possibility of finding appropriately fitted gloves (e.g., "salad preparation gloves") that Ms. Datt may have been able to use without aggravating her condition.

* There was no evidence of:
* the relationship between food contamination and hand-washing;

* the risk to the public if Ms. Datt's hand-washing was limited; and

* other employees being adversely affected by Ms. Datt's limitations.
Lessons for employers: It can be argued that Canadian human rights tribunals are insensitive to the practicalities of operating a business and accommodating members of a workforce who may or may not have realistic expectations of how their unique situations might be handled. Nonetheless, this case is a reminder that employers in Canada should follow a comprehensive process to review accommodation options for disabled employees. It also provides useful guidance on the standards of accommodation expected. The tribunal made several statements in this regard:

* An employer must be "innovative, yet practical, in considering how to accommodate a disabled employee."

* "An employer must patiently and carefully assess a disabled employee's condition and this can only occur if there are discussions with that employee."

* An employer must consider what jobs are available or could be modified or differently organized.

* An employer has an obligation to consider the bundling of duties, which might result in a "new" position being created.

* "Ms. Datt was not entitled to a perfect solution, but she was entitled to a fulsome consideration of her restrictions and how those restrictions intersected with the hand-washing policies and the jobs that were available."

The Tribunal noted that employers should be proactive and consult with the injured employee. The tribunal stated its displeasure with McDonald's because of its "lack of consultation" with Ms. Datt as follows:
I do not accept that [McDonald's] was open to considering what Ms. Datt had to say, her suggestions for a possible change in her duties or whether there were any other jobs available that she could perform . For example, it did not consider if Ms. Datt could perform some of the duties of a swing manager, work in the drive thru and then perhaps act as hostess. Taking these steps would not have caused it undue hardship.

'Gay' study: Marriage makes little difference

'Same-sex relationships must be unique, not like oppressive heterosexual norms'. The claim that homosexual relationships are generally better than normal marriages is just hogwash, however. It is often covered up but the reports of violence in homosexual relationships that have emerged suggest that such violence is common

A new study on homosexual and lesbian couples that has been promoted as showing committed same-sex couples are "more satisfied" with their partners than married heterosexuals also reveals that among same-sex partners, marriage matters little. In a startling revelation that could take the wind out of the sails of activists demanding same-sex "marriage" as a right, the study found, "In general, there were few differences between same-sex couples who could get married in Massachusetts and couples who could have only marriage-like relationships in California and Vermont."

The study was done by Esther Rothblum of San Diego State University, who specializes in same-sex issues. The school's announcement about the study was headlined: "Committed Same-Sex Couples More Satisfied With Their Partners than Married Heterosexual Couples." "The study showed that same-sex couples reported greater relationship quality, compatibility, intimacy and lower levels of conflict than married couples. The research, published in the January issue of Developmental Psychology, is the first study to follow same-sex couples in civil unions over time," the publicity release said.

"The reasons for this could be varied but when you have two women or two men in a couple, they have been socialized similarly and so they're both from 'Venus' or both from 'Mars,' so to speak," said Rothblum, study co-author and professor in SDSU's department of women's studies. "Because of this they may not have to negotiate the huge barriers that men and women do in terms of how they view conflict, provide emotional support or handle childrearing."

The study was one of several documents cited by columnist Julie Sullivan of The Oregonian in a column that trumpeted the higher happiness levels for same-sex duos. "Same-sex couples are more honest about monogamy and sex, researchers say. They're also more mature, considerate and fairer to each other than heterosexual couples. They're funnier and more affectionate when they argue. Less controlling. They don't take everything so personally," she wrote. She also cited research done at the Gottman Institute in Seattle, which has a number of studies posted on its website that address same-sex relationships. She quoted Rothblum: "[A] difference in how long [same-sex] couples stayed together cannot be attributed to the civil union itself."

The study itself, available online at Rothblum's university web page, expands on her conclusion that there are "few differences" among same-sex couples who can get married or not. The study said only Massachusetts homosexuals are allowed actually to "marry," and that process still is in its early stages there. And the study said the study of duos from Vermont, California and Massachusetts was "the first to compare three states that . are identical in their same-sex legislation at the legal level." "This study is more about who chooses to have a legalized relationship and less about how being in a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership changes a relationship," the study said. "Some same-sex couples marry or perform commitment ceremonies to be accepted by families of origin; others do so as a form of rebellion," it said.

In addition, under the headline "Do Same-Sex Couples Want to Get Married?" the study noted that marriage is "controversial" within the homosexual community. "The radical position asserts that marriage is an oppressive institution and that same-sex relationships should be unique and freely chosen, not mimicking heterosexual norms," the study said. "Books such as 'That's Revolting!' . argue that mainstream issues such as marriage have drained LGBT communities of power and cultural identity.

"As Canadian gay magazine editor Mitchel Raphael stated about gay marriage in Canada: 'I'd be for marriage if I though gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of 'til death do us part' and monogamy forever. .'" the study quoted. "Results indicate few differences between same-sex couples in civil unions and those not in civil unions.," Rothblum continued.

Rothblum says her research and writings have focused on "women's mental health and relationships with a specific focus on (1) sexual orientation, (2) the stigma of weight and (3) academic procrastination." In the category of sexual orientation, "My research has focused on methodological issues, including factors unique to lesbians as well as ways that gender and sexual orientation intersect."

The study also raised questions about the issue of "discrimination" against homosexuals. Under "Discrimination," the study summarized: "There were no significant gender or interstate effects for having LGB people at work, having had problems at work as a result of being LGB, having lost or been refused a job as a result of being LGB, or having been refused a place to live as a result of being LGB."

The Oregonian column followed the lead of the news release from the university employing Rothblum, noting that her study and another "found much the same - including that same-sex partners are generally happier than their straight siblings who are married." With heterosexual couples, you really have to translate what your partner is sayinig because they grew up in different worlds," Rothblum said. "They socialized in different ways. That's where same-sex couples have an advantage." The Gottman organization said it has found that "workshops tailored to gay and lesbian couples can have a strong impact on relationships."


It takes an actress to defend Western civilization from encroaching Medieval ignorance??

French former film star Brigitte Bardot went on trial on Tuesday for insulting Muslims, the fifth time she has faced the charge of "inciting racial hatred" over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. Prosecutors asked that the Paris court hand the 73-year-old former sex symbol a two-month suspended prison sentence and fine her 15,000 euros ($23,760) for saying the Muslim community was "destroying our country and imposing its acts".

Since retiring from the film industry in the 1970s, Bardot has become a prominent animal rights activist but she has also courted controversy by denouncing Muslim traditions and immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. She has been fined four times for inciting racial hatred since 1997, at first 1,500 euros and most recently 5,000. Prosecutor Anne de Fontette told the court she was seeking a tougher sentence than usual, adding: "I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs Bardot." Bardot did not attend the trial because she said she was physically unable to. The verdict is expected in several weeks.

French anti-racist groups complained last year about comments Bardot made about the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in a letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy that was later published by her foundation. Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha by slaughtering a sheep or another animal to commemorate the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's orders.

France is home to 5 million Muslims, Europe's largest Muslim community, making up 8 percent of France's population. "I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts," the star of 'And God created woman' and 'Contempt' said. Bardot has previously said France is being invaded by sheep-slaughtering Muslims and published a book attacking gays, immigrants and the unemployed, in which she also lamented the "Islamisation of France".


Republicans and Blacks

By Thomas Sowell

If Senator John McCain needed to prove that he is a real Republican, he did it when he continued an old Republican tradition of utterly inept attempts to appeal to black voters. Senator McCain was booed at a recent memorial on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. In typical Republican fashion, he tried to apologize but the audience was not buying it and let him know it. Why would Senator McCain choose a venue where his rejection was virtually guaranteed? Not only did he not get his message out, the message that came out through the media is that this black audience rejected him, which is readily portrayed as if blacks in general rejected him.

The Republican strategy for making inroads into the black vote has failed consistently for more than a quarter of a century. Yet it never seems to occur to them to change their approach. The first thing that they do that is foredoomed to failure is trying to reach blacks through the civil rights organizations and other institutions of the black establishment. The second proven loser is trying to appeal to blacks by offering the same kinds of things that Democrats offer— token honors, politically correct rhetoric and welfare state benefits. Blacks who want those things know that they can already get them from the Democrats. Why should they listen to Republicans who act like imitation Democrats?' These are not the blacks whose votes Republicans have any realistic hope of getting. Nor do the Republicans need the votes of all blacks. If just 20 percent of blacks begin voting Republican, the Democrats are lost.

The question then is how to have a shot at getting the votes of those blacks who are not in thrall to the current black "leaders" and who on many issues may be conservative. First of all, you don't get their votes by approaching them from the left, when that is neither their orientation nor yours. Issuing stamps honoring Paul Robeson and Kwanzaa are not the way to reach those blacks whom Republicans have any realistic chance of reaching. Trying to reach blacks through civil rights organizations that are totally hostile to your message is like a quarterback trying to throw a pass to a receiver surrounded by opposing defenders. That just leads to a lot of interceptions and touchdowns for the other team. That is essentially what has been happening to the Republicans, as far as the black vote is concerned, for decades on end. Someone once said that a method which fails repeatedly may possibly be wrong.

The truth is something that can attract people's attention, if only for its novelty in politics. There is no need for Republicans to try to pose as saviors of blacks. Democrats do that and they have more experience doing it. A sober presentation of the facts— "straight talk," if you will— gives Senator McCain and Republicans their best shot at a larger share of the votes of blacks. There is plenty to talk straight about, including all the things that the Democrats are committed to that work to the disadvantage of blacks, beginning with Democrats' adamant support of teachers' unions in their opposition to parental choice through vouchers. The teachers' unions are just one of the sacred cow constituencies of the Democratic Party whose agendas are very harmful to blacks.

Black voters also need to be told about the tens of thousands of blacks who have been forced out of a number of liberal Democratic California counties by skyrocketing housing prices, brought on by Democratic environmentalists' severe restrictions on the building of homes or apartments. The black population of San Francisco, for example, has been cut in half since 1970— and San Francisco is the very model of a community of liberal Democrats, including green zealots who are heedless of the consequences of their actions on others.

Then there are the effects of tort lawyers in raising prices, liberal judges turning criminals loose and other influential Democratic Party constituencies whose effects on blacks are strictly negative. Where should these and other messages be delivered to blacks, if not through the existing black organizations?

That message can be delivered as part of televised speeches addressing other major issues facing the country. It can be delivered as part of advertisements in the general media and separately in advertisements in newspapers, magazines and television programs with a black audience. Logistics are not the problem. Insistence on following a repeatedly failed game plan is



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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