The sons and daughters of “baby boomers” are sometimes called “the sandwich generation”. This cohort has the unenviable task of both raising their own families while often also taking on financial and caregiving responsibilities in respect of their aging parents. As a result, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to be faced with scenarios which require its consideration of an employee’s entitlement to accommodation under the ground of “family status”. This enumerated ground under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and under the Canadian Human Rights Act has resulted in recent decisions relating to the balance between work and family obligations and accommodation requirements. The Ontario Employment Standards Act also provides protection to families under its Personal Emergency Leave provisions.
This paper canvasses the existing legislation in respect of “family status” accommodation obligations and provides an overview of a number of recent cases that shed some light on how “family status” accommodation situations are playing out in Canadian workplaces.