Human Rights Office

Human Rights Office
Human Rights Office

Remtulla v. The Athletic Club (Trainyards) Inc. 2014 HRTO 940 (CanLII)

Summary:

Ruhaina Remtulla was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2003. For Ms. Remtulla exercise is a very important part of her physical and psychological well-being.  At the time of this case Ms. Remtulla was a member of The Athletic Club (Trainyards) Inc. (TAC). Ms. Remtulla preferred to participate in group classes rather than working out on her own. Ms. Remtulla most frequently attended Zumba* classes.  At this particular gym, Zumba classes are offered in both a lights-on and lights-off format. Throughout her time at TAC Ms. Remtulla made a number of accommodation requests. Her complaint against TAC stems from her belief that they failed to meet her accommodation requests. In this case there were three main accommodation requests. These requests revolved around the scheduling of lights-off Zumba classes, a request to keep areas at the back of the studio clear (accessible area), and the installation of grab bars in studios. In the case of the scheduling of light-off Zumba classes, it was found that the respondent did make an effort to work around Ms. Remtulla’s schedule in relation to the scheduling of lights-off and lights-on Zumba classes (Ms. Remtulla did not want to and medically was advised not to participate in lights-off classes). In this case it was found that Ms. Remtulla did not engage in a discussion of her accommodation request in good faith. In relation to this accommodation request the respondent had to balance the applicant’s accommodation request against the needs of the rest of the membership. The second accommodation request made by Ms. Remtulla was to ensure that an area at the back of studios was kept clear so that there was in essence an “accessible area”. In an effort to fulfill this accommodation request, a memo was sent to all TAC instructors about the need to keep the area at the back of studios clear. In addition, staff from the TAC agreed to accompany Ms. Remtulla to classes to ensure that the “accessible area” was clear. Due to the reasonable efforts demonstrated by the TAC this allegation was dismissed. The final accommodation request made by the applicant was in relation to the installation of grab bars in studios. Grab bars were installed in both the women and co-ed studios. After installation Ms. Remtulla informed TAC that the grab bars in the co-ed studio were in the wrong location. In response to this information the TAC refused to move the grab bars in the co-ed studio.  In relation to this accommodation request it was found that the respondent failed to accommodate the applicant in the placement of the grab bar.

Question(s) to be Determined:

  1. Did The Athletic Club (Trainyards) Inc. discriminate against Ms. Remtulla on the basis of disability?

Findings:

  1. Did The Athletic Club (Trainyards) Inc. discriminate against Ms. Remtulla on the basis of disability?

YES (but only in part)

Of the three allegations raised by Ms. Remtulla, two were dismissed.

Reasoning:

  1. In this case it was found that the respondent discriminated against Ms. Remtulla on the basis of disability in relation to the installation of a grab bar in the co-ed studio. After having installed grab bars in both the women and co-ed studio’s, Ms. Remtulla informed TAC that the one in the co-ed studio was in the wrong location, and therefore unusable by Ms. Remtulla. Instead of engaging in a discussion with Ms. Remtulla and moving the grab bar, the TAC refused to re-position the grab bar. By refusing, the respondent breached the procedural and substantive duty to accommodate.

In this case all other allegations were dismissed.

Remedies:

In this case 15 remedies were sought by the applicant. In total 4 remedies were awarded in this case.

  • Move the grab bar in the co-ed studio to either edge of the designated accessible area;
  • Ensure that David Wu has completed the online module offered by the Ontario Human Rights Commission entitled Human Rights and The Duty to Accommodate;
  • Post Code cards in its physical facilities;
  • Pay $3,000 to the applicant as compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect. Post-judgment interest in accordance with the Court of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, is payable on any of the above amount not paid to the applicant within 30 days of the date of this Decision.

*Zumba classes are a Latin inspired dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and International music and dance movements.