ARTICLES

#41
WHEN A WOMAN CAN’T DO THE SAME PHYSICAL WORK A MALE CO-WORKER CAN DO, BUT IT’S ONLY A SMALL PART OF THE JOB

 

Employment equality seems like such a simple concept, therefore it’s sometimes difficult to understand when equality isn’t always about everything being exactly equal. If a policy, law, procedure or employment requirement comes into conflict with a person’s human rights, there must be an accommodation unless it creates undue hardship. When we’re talking about employment, that means an employer must find some way to accommodate the employee, but to be clear, if it creates an undue hardship on the employer, then no accommodation will be necessary. Hence, if a woman has a job in a workplace where most (if not all) of the employees are men, it could be because the strength requirements will be too difficult for the average man and therefore for most women (I’m generalizing here, but this is our scenario). However, let’s say in our scenario, the woman can do 98% of the job, but there is one task where she doesn’t have the upper body strength to do it. This could be an example where it does not create an “undue hardship” on the employer. However, if the employer makes some simple adjustment so she doesn’t have to do this one task, that might get some flak from the guys. A simple discussion will be necessary.

 

TRY THIS:

 

Talk to the guys to spell out the law and the employer’s requirements. It shouldn’t be a law class, however, most people can understand the law. Perhaps at the end of the conversation, some of the guys won’t agree with it, but you don’t need agreement all the time. You just need them to know what is expected and if there is any grief to you or another employee, there can be consequences (but hopefully it doesn’t get that far). Let employees know that what you are doing is not something new or terribly special. It’s the law and the employer can be held liable if they don’t comply with the law. Just be sure you have the woman’s agreement that this discussion will be going on.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“I’ve heard some grumblings about how work is assigned and how Susan is no longer required to do one work task because she has some difficulty with it. We all know that Susan is no slacker and she has done weight training and has had added instruction to help her with this task. However, she and I have concluded that it makes no sense for her to kill herself just to do this one task. She can do it with the help of one of you guys, but we’ve decided that she’s no longer going to be required to do this task. However, she’s not sitting around twiddling her thumbs. She has agreed to take on another task that one of you guys would be doing instead. The law is very clear that if a person’s human rights are in play, we have to accommodate the employee to the point of undue hardship. After discussions with Human Resources, we concluded this new arrangement is nowhere near an undue hardship for us. We don’t want to lose Susan, who we all know is a great asset to this organization. Someone else would scoop her up and that would be our loss. I just want to make it clear that Susan is doing nothing wrong and neither are we. Therefore, I don’t want anyone bugging her about this. If you have issues with your work assignment, talk to me, not Susan or anyone else. And if you have more trouble understanding how this works, I’m more than happy to talk to you about it. Now do any of you have any questions....”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT