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The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (“DSM-V”), the latest edition of the “Bible” on psychological disorders, serves as the authoritative text when it comes to properly diagnosing psychological issues. Employers should familiarize themselves with the latest edition in order to ensure they are aware of newly added disorders, some of which may not be well known.

How Does this Impact Employers?

The addition of conditions in the DSM-V will broaden an employer’s duty to accommodate persons with disabilities under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”), the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) and the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is important to understand the duty to accommodate and when it arises, as failing to properly accommodate disabled employees could result in significant costs to employers down the line.

What Needs to be Accommodated?

Employers have a duty to accommodate employees with both physical and mental disabilities. The DSM-V recognizes a wide range of psychological disorders that may require accommodation in the workplace – including some newer additions that employers should be aware of. For example, according to the DSM-V, employers may have to provide accommodation to those with the following psychological disorders:

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Hoarding Disorder
  • Skin-picking Disorder
  • Gambling Disorder
  • Caffeine Withdrawal
  • Cannabis Withdrawal

The fact that these conditions are included in the DSM-V signals that they are likely to be treated in the same fashion as other disabilities under applicable legislation.

What Can an Employer Do?

Employers should remain up to date on the DSM-V and review their obligations under the Code and AODA in order to ensure they have proactive workplace policies in place that address their disability-related obligations with respect to both physical and mental disabilities.

One thing that remains consistent throughout every instance of accommodation is that proving undue hardship can be very difficult. Practically speaking, employers should generally accept that the disorders outlined in the DSM-V can be considered mental disabilities and focus their efforts on obligations relating to accommodation and education under AODA and the Code.