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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2002

Waterloo Professor Wins Disability Case

Arbitrator finds evidence of discrimination & orders university to pay full compensation.

A retired University of Waterloo professor has won a significant victory in an arbitration ruling that the university discriminated against him on the basis of disability.

Professor Sydney Davison, a longtime member of the department of applied mathematics, exercised his right to extended employment for one year beyond his normal retirement at age 65. Disabled since 1989, Davison's compensation consisted of a 60-40 ratio of benefits and salary. But during his one-year extension both the university and the disability insurer refused to pay the benefit portion.

Under the memorandum of agreement between Waterloo and its faculty association, a faculty member "has the right to postpone his/her retirement date to the beginning of the contract year following or coincident with her/his 65th birthday." The agreement's nondiscriminating clause requires that "there shall be no discrimination ... in respect to ... benefit ... salary ... or any other terms or conditions of employment by reason of age (except for retirement) ... ill health or disability ..."

In addition, the university had committed itself to nondiscrimination in its policy on equality in employment. Nonetheless, the university agreed to a disability insurance contract that ended benefits at age 65. In Davison's case, the university refused to pay anything more than the 40 per cent it had provided in the past.

Davison argued termination of the 60 per cent benefit component deprived him of his right to postpone retirement for a further year. He claimed the university was engaged in age discrimination through its failure to provide benefits past age 65, and in disability discrimination by refusing to ensure full compensation in the post-65 extension of employment.

Arbitrator Gregory Brandt compared the university's treatment of Davison to that of other faculty members who elected to postpone retirement and found the university provided different levels of compensation for work because of disability.

Brandt said the inequity amounted to "prohibited discrimination" contrary to the agreement and university policies, and ordered the university to compensate Davison for losses suffered as a result of its failure to ensure full compensation in the further year of employment.