University Accommodated RA with Mice Allergy to Point of Undue Hardship


A research assistant at a university developed a severe allergy to mice, which she worked with at the lab. Her doctor advised her to stop working directly with mice and to wear respiratory protection in the facility where the mice were kept. After she informed the university, she was given a temporary accommodation until she could see a specialist. But there were no other available positions for which she was qualified or that were suitable for her. So she sued for disability discrimination, claiming the university failed to accommodate her allergy. The court dismissed her complaint. There were few positions the assistant was qualified for and she wasn’t interested in a lower position. And the school didn’t have a duty to displace an employee to create a position for her or to create a tailor-made position just for her, concluded the court [Wilcox v. University of British Columbia, [2014] BCHRT 228 (CanLII), Oct. 22, 2014].