Workplace accommodation and audit-based evaluation process for compliance with the Employment Equity Act: inclusionary practices that exclude—an institutional ethnography

Jean Louis Deveau


Matt kept the operable window in his office open all the time because he needed unlimited access to fresh air. This was terminated after a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system was installed in his Government of Canada office building. After Matt’s access to fresh air became mechanically controlled through extra-locally developed air quality standards, the workplace became a barrier for him. Matt was deemed to suffer from a disability known as environmental sensitivity because he became ill every time he spent more than 45 minutes inside his office building. Yet, according to a textually-mediated assessment of Matt’s workplace performed by a Compliance Review Officer from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, his workplace was barrier-free. Using Dorothy E. Smith’s institutional ethnography, this paper explicates how the social organization of workplace accommodation and compliance—processes that were developed to promote inclusion—are exclusionary.


workplace accommodation, compliance; Employment Equity Act; institutional ethnography; disability; environmental sensitivity

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