Duty to Accommodate

Employers, service providers, landlords and others have a duty to accommodate a person’s needs because of a protected ground to the point of undue hardship.

What is the duty to accommodate?

Employers, service providers, landlords and others have a duty to accommodate. This means making changes to rules, standards, policies, workplace culture and physical environments to eliminate or reduce the negative impact that someone faces because of a protected ground.

The goal of accommodation is to provide an equal opportunity for an individual or group to participate in any of the protected areas under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

What you need to know

  • Both the person requesting accommodation and their employer, service provider, or landlord have rights and responsibilities in the accommodation process
  • Employers, service providers, or landlords who receive a request for accommodation must take reasonable steps to accommodate the person’s needs to the point of undue hardship
  • Individuals requiring accommodation based on protected grounds must let their employer, service provider, or landlord know their needs
  • In some situations, an employer, service provider, or landlord can justify its decision to not accommodate someone because it was reasonable and justifiable in the circumstances or it caused undue hardship
  • The accommodation process is most successful when everyone works together to come up with creative, flexible solutions

The accommodation process

During the accommodation process, everyone must act reasonably and cooperatively in searching for and implementing accommodation.

The person making the accommodation request must make the employer, service provider, or landlord aware of their need for accommodation. The person must provide enough information or documentation for the employer, service provider, or landlord to understand what type of accommodation they need.

During the accommodation process, the person making the request must cooperate with their employer, service provider, or landlord and participate in accommodation efforts. For more information on rights and responsibilities when making an accommodation request, refer to the Duty to Accommodate human rights guide.

If an employer, service provider, or landlord has received an accommodation request, it must take steps to accommodate the person making the request to the point of undue hardship. These steps may include:

  • requesting information about accommodation needs
  • being flexible and creative in searching for accommodation that meets the needs of the person requesting accommodation
  • engaging and communicating with the person requesting accommodation

For more information on the duty to accommodate in different areas, refer to the following pages:

Want more guidance on making or responding to an accommodation request? Refer to the following pages for more information:

Accommodation examples

Some examples of accommodation include:

  • giving time off for extended illness
  • changing work duties or responsibilities
  • changing work environments or making exceptions to condominium, tenancy, or business policies or rules to provide better access for service dogs
  • making sure places of business, workplaces, and apartments are accessible for persons who use wheelchairs by providing a ramp and installing electronic door opening devices or changing those environments to provide access
  • giving space and time for employees or students to observe religious practices at set times during the work or school day
  • providing extra time for post-secondary students with disabilities to write exams
  • providing smoke-free rooms to hotel guests with asthma
  • providing a private area for breastfeeding/chestfeeding while in a retail store


People who need accommodation because of a protected ground, such as a disability, can request accommodation. For example, this can include:

  • employees or job candidates
  • union members
  • current or potential tenants
  • housing cooperative members
  • condominium owners or renters
  • students
  • customers or anyone trying to access or use a good or service

The reason for accommodation must be based on a need related to a protected ground under the Act.

The duty to accommodate applies to individuals and groups under the Act, which includes:

  • employers
  • landlords
  • housing providers
  • business owners
  • public service providers
  • educational institutions
  • professional associations
  • trade unions
  • condominium corporations

Employers, service providers, housing providers, condominium corporations, and landlords have a duty to take steps to accommodate individual needs to the point of undue hardship. Some hardship may be necessary in accommodating a person. Where an employer, service provider, housing provider, condominium corporation, or landlord says that accommodating a person causes an undue hardship, it must provide proof. In many cases, accommodation measures are simple and affordable and do not create undue hardship.

Accommodation may cause some inconvenience, disruption, and expense to an employer, service provider, or landlord, but the law requires accommodation to the point of undue hardship.

Undue hardship occurs if accommodation would create significantly onerous conditions for an employer, service provider, or landlord. For example, this may include intolerable financial costs or serious disruption to business. Other factors that may determine if undue hardship would occur include:

  • size and resources of the employer, service provider, or landlord
  • interchangeability of work force and facilities (the ability to adjust positions, roles, duties, or job location)
  • health and safety concerns

Undue hardship is unique to every situation. Certain accommodation may create undue hardship for one employer, service provider, or landlord but not for another. For example, a business with three employees may not be able to accommodate a request for revised work hours as easily as a business that has 25 employees.

For more information on undue hardship, refer to the Duty to Accommodate human rights guide.


It depends. If the person requesting accommodation refuses reasonable and appropriate accommodation, then the employer, service provider, or landlord has likely met their legal responsibilities.

If the employer, service provider, or landlord fails to accommodate the person to the point of undue hardship, then they may be contravening (going against) the Act. The person requesting accommodation can discuss their situation with human resources and may choose to file a complaint with their employer or ultimately make a human rights complaint with the Commission. You have one year after the discriminatory act or treatment to make a complaint to the Commission.

For more information about the complaint process and remedies, refer to the Making a complaint page.

A BFOR is a standard or rule that is necessary for carrying out the requirements of a particular position within a workplace. For a standard to be a BFOR, an employer must establish that any accommodation or changes to that standard or rule would create an undue hardship.

For example, a seniors’ residence only hires male nursing attendants for male residents who request an attendant of the same gender. A female job applicant applies for a nursing attendant position in the seniors’ residence but is not hired. The employer may have a bona fide occupational requirement, as it is reasonable for residents to have their requests met to preserve their sense of personal dignity and privacy. While the requirement is at first glance discriminatory, it is reasonable and justifiable in the circumstance.

For more on BFOR, refer to the Defences to Human Rights Complaints guide