Recently the City of Burlington re-launched a mandatory indoor mask policy for the City’s employees, effective from November 28, 2022, to January 8, 2023, throughout the winter holiday season.
Does an employer have the right to mandate mask wearing?
According to the City, the decision was a result of increased employee absenteeism due to illness. With the double waves of covid-19 virus and flu virus, it is hard to say whether the public healthcare systems can sustain or not. An employer does have a duty to maintain workplace health and safety, pursuant to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Do I need to wear a mask if my employer has mandated it?
On the other hand, an employer also has a duty to accommodate employees based on enumerated grounds from Ontario’s Human Rights Code, such as disability. If you have a disability that prohibits wearing a face mask, you have the right to seek accommodation from your employer. Common accommodations include an exemption from wearing a face mask, being allowed to work from home, or work with modified duties.
As accommodation is a two-way communication process, it is recommended to cooperate with the employer regarding discussions on alternative solutions and providing necessary documents. An individual seeking accommodation may need to provide a doctor’s notes stating that this person has a disability with specific limitations requiring certain accommodation types.
To protect individuals’ privacy and dignity, the law has put a limit on necessary medical documentation required for accommodation purposes. You do not have to provide your employer with a detailed medical history, diagnosis, cause of the disability, or treatment, unless this information clearly relates to the requested accommodation.
What Can I Do?
If you have questions about your health and safety rights at the workplace, you should seek legal advice to better understand your rights. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.
Author: Luna Li