Employee with “Anger Management Issues” was not Disabled

A police officer who “suffered from bad temper and anger management problems” but said he was able to perform his job duties, was not disabled under the Ontario Human Rights Code, an Ontario court has decided.

Because the employee had failed a “use of force test”, he was required to surrender his weapon.  His “temper erupted”.  Four police officers were called to a domestic incident later that day at his home.  He assaulted all four officers and threatened to kill two of them.  He was subdued with a taser.  He had abused alcohol and disclosed a twelve-year history of binge drinking.  A psychologist stated that the employee had work-induced post-traumatic stress disorder.

The court stated that is was “not aware of any jurisprudence which established that anger management issues will support a finding of disability.”

The court went on to say:

“Addiction arising from alcoholism and/or drug abuse or post traumatic stress disorder may amount to a disability within the meaning of the Code.  However, the onus on a person claiming a disability is to prove it. There was some evidence that the applicant was addicted to alcohol and some medically prescribed drugs. There was also some evidence that the applicant was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.  However, there was no evidence that any of those conditions rendered him unable to perform any aspect of his job description.  Indeed, quite the opposite was claimed.  In submitting through his counsel that the appropriate penalty was simply a demotion, the applicant took the position that he was able to perform and carry out his essential employment duties.”

Because the employee was not disabled, the police service had no duty to accommodate him.

This case demonstrates that employees who request accommodation of a disability must prove the disability.  This employee, who claimed to be able to carry out his police duties, was not disabled and therefore was not entitled to accommodation under human rights legislation.

Gulick v. Ottawa Police Service, 2012 ONSC 5536 (CanLII)

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Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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