Tony Kearsley applies for a position as a firefighter with the City of St. Catharines and was accepted on condition that he were to pass a medical examination by a doctor specified by the city. However, during the medical exam the doctor discovered that Kearsley had an atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and refused to pass him. Kearsley took it upon himself to consult a medical specialist who advised him that his condition would indeed not affect his ability to perform his job as a firefighter.
Kearsley then filed a complaint against the city with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. At the Commissions Bored of Inquiry hearing, the doctor who had originally examined Kearsley testified that atrial fibrillation led to increased risk for stroke meaning his heart could fail to pump sufficient blood to his organs during the extreme conditions that come with firefighting. The Board of Inquiry called a medical expert in atrial fibrillation. The expert testified that the increased risk for stroke in someone of Kearsley’s age was inconsequential.
The expert further testified that there was no increased risk for heart failure in someone like Kearsley because he was otherwise in good health. Meanwhile, after Kearsley got turned down by the St. Catharines fire department, Kearsley had become a firefighter in the City of Hamilton, achieving the rank of first-class firefighter in October 2001. 2. Why did the Board of Inquiry rule in Kearsley’s favour? The Board of Inquiry ruled in Kearsley’s favour because they came to the conclusion that Mr. Tony Kearsley had in fact suffered discrimination.
The Board noted that it would have been the City of St. Catharines responsibility to seek an expert opinion when confronted with a medical condition such as that found in Kearsley. The Board also indicated that this was the procedure used in other municipalities. The City did not follow their responsibilities which led to Mr. Kearsley’s unfair treatment and discrimination based on disability. For these reasons, this is why I think the Board of Inquiry most definitely ruled in Kearsley’s favour. 3. Do you agree with the decision in this case?
Why or why not? I strongly agree with the decision of the case. Tony Kearsley was without a doubt, discriminated based on disability which is illegal in Canada. I feel like the city of St. Catharines defiantly should have handled this matter in a more ordered and professional way, as it seems that none of the facts in favour of the city of St. Catharines truly added up. I feel like the city jumped to conclusions too quickly not taking into account that Tony Kearsley was still fully capable to fulfill all duties of a firefighter. They did not treat Mr.
Kearsley as an equal after finding out he had a disability; this is an act of discrimination and this is illegal. The city of St. Catharines owes at the least these things to Mr. Tony Kearsley in return for their lack of knowledge towards him while doing their job. 4. In what ways in this case a question of human rights? This case is a question of human rights because it is strongly discriminating against disability in the workplace. The Ontario Human Rights Code provides in part: 5(1) Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of … handicap.
10(1) “because of handicap” means for the reason that person has or had, or is believed to have or have had a) any degree of physical disability that is caused by illness. 17(1) a right of a person under this Act is not infringed for the reason only that the person is incapable of performing of fulfilling essential duties or requirements attending the exercise of the right because of handicap. It is obvious at once that a person with very bad eyesight is not discriminated against when refused a job as a truck driver nor a person with inadequate strength when refused a job as a police officer or firefighter.
There is no doubt that St. Catharines considered that Mr. Kearsley had a physical disability, atrial fibrillation. The issue is whether St. Catharines was justified in concluding that because of this perceived disability; Mr. Kearsley was incapable of performing or fulfilling essential duties as a firefighter. It was later found out that Mr. Kearsley could indeed perform all duties as a firefighter, as he got hired by the City of Hamilton later that year. Therefore, Mr. Kearsley was discriminated against based on disability and this is without a doubt, a question of human rights.