MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Vol 2 #6
In September 2016, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its updated Policy on Ableism and Discrimination based on Disability. The new policy sets out information about the role of medical documentation in the work accommodation process.
“Section 8.7, Medical information to be provided, sets out detailed guidance about the type and scope of medical information to be provided to support an accommodation request.
This information should include:
that the person has a disability
the limitations or needs associated with the disability
whether the person can perform the essential duties or requirements of the job, of being a tenant, or of being a service user, with or without accommodation
the type of accommodation(s) that may be needed to allow the person to fulfill the essential duties or requirements of the job, of being a tenant, or of being a service user, etc.
Where more information about a person’s disability is needed, the information requested must be the least intrusive of the person’s privacy while still giving the organization enough information to make an informed decision about the accommodation.
To implement appropriate accommodations that respect the dignity and privacy interests of people with disabilities, the focus should always be on the functional limitations associated with the disability, rather than a person’s diagnosis.
Generally, the accommodation provider does not have the right to know a person’s confidential medical information, such as the cause of the disability, diagnosis, symptoms or treatment, unless these clearly relate to the accommodation being sought, or the person’s needs are complex, challenging or unclear and more information is needed”.
“There are also situations where employers and others have requested personal medical information that goes beyond what is required to support an accommodation request. Overbroad requests for private medical information – such as diagnostic information – undermine the dignity and privacy of people with disabilities. The ongoing stigma associated with many disabilities, especially and including mental health disabilities, means that requests for diagnostic information may pose a barrier to a person with disabilities proceeding with their accommodation request”.
Extracts from Policy on Ableism and Discrimination based on Disability. Revised version approved by the OHRC: June 27, 2016.