May 08, 2017

New Brunswick Employers Now Need to Accommodate Family Status

New Brunswick has added “family status” as a protected ground in its Human Rights Act. All other jurisdictions in Canada have already made this move. But, don’t let the fact that we are the last province to make this change fool you into thinking that this amendment is no big deal. It is a big deal. It is a HUGE deal. It is going to mean significant changes for employers in New Brunswick.

The addition of “family status” will require New Brunswick employers to accommodate employees on the basis of “family status” to the point of undue hardship. The term “family status” is not defined. Courts in other jurisdictions have determined that “family status” protection extends to a person’s family caregiving responsibilities. The protection may, however, be broader than just caregiving responsibilities.

The obligation to accommodate employees on the basis of family status can include, but is not limited to, situations where:

  • an employee is unable to find childcare for a period of time; and
  • an employee provides care to an elderly parent.

Unlike other protected grounds in the Human Rights Act, the duty to accommodate on the basis of “family status” is only triggered if the employee can establish that he/she made reasonable efforts to meet his/her childcare or eldercare obligations through alternative solutions and no such alternative solution was reasonably accessible.

The addition of “family status” as a ground of discrimination is one of several changes being made to the New Brunswick Human Rights Act. Another ground, “gender identity or expression”, is also being added. Additionally,
changes are being made that should make it easier for a complaint to be dismissed, at any stage, if:

  • it is without merit;
  • it is frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith;
  • it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission;
  • it has been dealt with in another proceeding;
  • it has been abandoned; and/or
  • the complainant has declined a settlement offer that the Human Rights Commission considers fair and reasonable.

If you want to learn more about these changes and what they will mean for employers, join us at one of our Breakfast Seminars, taking place across New Brunswick in June:

Saint John – June 14, 2017 at the Delta Brunswick
Fredericton – June 15, 2017 at the Delta Fredericton
Moncton – June 26, 2017 at the Delta Beausejour
Bathurst – June 29, 2017 at the Atlantic Host

The registration fee is $25. Registration is limited so please register early. All registration fees will be donated to a local charity.

Click here to register, or if you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Patterson at coxandpalmer.com or 506-462-4762.

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New Brunswick Employers Now Need to Accommodate Family Status

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Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.