Human Rights Advisory Services

Human Rights Advisory Services
Human Rights Advisory Services

Hill v University of Waterloo

Mr. Hill was employed as a plumber at the University of Waterloo.  In 2001, Hill began to experience stress due to the breakdown of his marriage.  He alleged that at this time, the employer and the union began to discriminate against him.  The employer denied him a promotion, transferred him to another area on campus, demoted him from the position of lead hand, questioned his doctor's note for sick leave on an intermittent basis and accused him of falsifying his time sheet. The union refused to pursue his grievance against the employer, claiming he did not have a case.    

At Tribunal, Mr. Hill was unable to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, which would have required him to prove...

  1.  that he had a disability,
  2. that he suffered adverse treatment and that
  3. his disability was a factor in the adverse treatment. 

The Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint for two reasons:

1)  The complainant failed to prove that he had suffered adverse treatment based on a disability.  Hill's own witnesses testified that the employer treated them all poorly, by consistently challenging and disregarding workplace policies and practices.  In light of this evidence, it was clear that the employer was not discriminating against Hill on the basis of disability.  In other words, Hill did not prove prima facie discrimination.

2) The complainant failed to prove that the employer discriminated against him by questioning his medical note. First of all, the note asked the employer to allow the employee to be absent from work intermittently, over a period of 8 weeks,  without having to get a fresh medical note for each absence. This was against the University's express policy regarding medical notes .  Secondly, the employer had the right to question the medical note because the term "intermittent" was too vague to act upon