Workplace Accommodation and Audit-Based Evaluation Process for Compliance with the Employment Equity Act: Inclusionary Practices That Exclude-An Institutional Ethnography

By Deveau, Jean Louis | Canadian Journal of Sociology, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Workplace Accommodation and Audit-Based Evaluation Process for Compliance with the Employment Equity Act: Inclusionary Practices That Exclude-An Institutional Ethnography


Deveau, Jean Louis, Canadian Journal of Sociology


INTRODUCTION

As stipulated in the Department of Justice Canada's (1995) Employment Equity Act (EEA), federal government departments and agencies are required to recruit and retain persons with disabilities in numbers proportional to their availability in the labour market. Through its audit-based evaluations for compliance with the EEA, auditors working with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) verify that government departments and agencies meet this and other legislative requirements, including the accommodation of persons hired with disabilities. This paper explicates how the social organization of workplace accommodation and compliance--processes that were developed to promote inclusion--are exclusionary.

Prior to 1999, a person in a wheelchair who was unable to climb up a set of stairs to get to her/his workplace was compelled to ask for a ramp. That ramp was perceived as the fix or cure required by the person in a wheelchair and is commonly referred to as workplace accommodation. After the Meiorin (2) Supreme Court of Canada ruling of 1999, accommodation was refocused from fixing the individual's problem to transforming our workplaces to meet the needs of all types of workers from the outset.

In 2002, the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada, the umbrella organization for 74 or so federal government departments and agencies, released a policy which reflected the outcome of the Meiorin case: it treated accommodation as a method of organizational transformation.

Since most federal departments and agencies have now been found to be in compliance (Michel Lefebvre, personal communication, December 13, 2010) (3) with the EEA, there should be a concomitant reduction in the number of human rights complaints based on the prohibited ground of disability. However, according to the Commission's annual reports for the period 1994-2004, there has been a 64% increase in the number of complaints based on disability in the five-year period after Meiorin compared to the five-year period prior to it. The bases for these complaints include such things as differential treatment, failure to accommodate, refusal to hire, and termination of employment. How could this be happening? It is an issue which we discuss amongst ourselves particularly at conferences like the ACCESS conference for disabled federal public servants, hosted tri-annually by the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Michael Oliver (1992) would argue that academic research on disability often contributes to these types of discrimination, which many of us who work for the federal public service continue to experience in our everyday working lives. Furthermore, he writes that researchers in the field of disability studies need to change the social relations of their research and adopt an emancipatory research paradigm. This paper is, in part, my response to Oliver's call for emancipatory research.

I used for my research an emancipatory method of investigation called institutional ethnography (IE). IE was developed by Canadian sociologist Dorothy E. Smith (1987, 1990a, 1990b, 2005) in the mid1980s as an alternative sociology for people who are marginalized. This paper was carved from the experiences of one of the 38 persons with disabilities I used for my doctoral studies (Deveau 2008) on workplace accommodation for federal public servants with disabilities. I shall refer to this person as Matt.

What distinguishes this study from the fine work done on workplace accommodation by Harlan and Robert (1998) and Gibson and Lindberg (2007) is that my research is not so much about the particular challenges encountered by a disabled worker in seeking her/his accommodation at the local level, but on how those challenges are hooked into textually mediated work processes originating at the macro level. In fact, by using a person's experience at the local level as a door through which powerful translocal forces can be mapped, IE bridges the divide sociologists have created between the micro and macro (Campbell 2003; Smith 1987:99). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Workplace Accommodation and Audit-Based Evaluation Process for Compliance with the Employment Equity Act: Inclusionary Practices That Exclude-An Institutional Ethnography
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.