Court of Appeal Finds University Discriminated Against Disabled Student

  • March 22, 2021
  • Tawanda Masimbe, Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP

In a recent decision, the Court of Appeal for Ontario found that the University of Waterloo (the “University”) discriminated against a student applicant on the basis of disability in refusing admission. The decision provides helpful insight into how educational institutions can meet the substantive and procedural aspects of the duty to accommodate in their student admission processes. 


Roch Longueépée, the Respondent, brought an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The application alleged that the University had discriminated against him on the basis of disability in refusing him admission to the Faculty of Arts. The Respondent was a survivor of institutional child abuse and suffered severe physical, psychological, and sexual trauma during his childhood.

The Respondent attended Dalhousie University several years before he applied for admission to the University. At Dalhousie, the Respondent achieved grades that were below the University’s minimum admission requirements for transfer students. Accepting that the Respondent achieved his grades at a time when he had undiagnosed and unaccommodated disabilities, the University’s Admissions Committee considered the Respondent’s application. The Respondent’s application package consisted of academic transcripts, information about his volunteer work, and reference letters. After considering the application, the Admissions Committee concluded that the application did not demonstrate that the Respondent had the ability to succeed at the University, and he was refused admission.