Can an employee suffering from the disease of alcoholism be punished for her behaviour if her disease contributed to the behaviour under review? What if the employee is a police officer?
The issue of alcohol dependency among first responders is an interesting subject. Police officers are people, susceptible to any number of diseases and disabilities. Alcohol dependency has consistently been held to be a “disability” under human rights legislation. Human rights legislation prescribes that employers have a duty to accommodate disabilities, including alcohol dependency, to the point of undue hardship. So therefore, if a police officer has a problem with alcoholism her employer, the police, must accommodate that disability, correct?
In the case of Mansley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2016 FC 389 (CanLII) (released April 7, 2016) the Federal Court was asked to judicially review a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Commission to decline to investigate an allegation of adverse differential treatment by the RCMP on the basis of alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In deciding to upheld the Commission’s decision the Honourable Mr. Justice B. Richard Bell held that the Commission’s decision, based on the findings of any investigation report, met the standard of reasonableness and fell within the range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law. Mr. Justice Bell was also satisfied that the investigator conducted a thorough and neutral analysis based on the various sources of information available to her and there was no bias, apprehension of bias or breach of procedural fairness.