What Was Said

Significant quotes from recent decisions.

"With respect, what is in issue here is not complete secularity, but true neutrality on the State's part and the discrimination that results from a violation of that neutrality. In this regard ... I do not think that the State's duty to remain neutral on questions relating to religion can be reconciled with a benevolence that would allow it to adhere to a religious belief. State neutrality means ... that the State must neither encourage nor discourage any form of religious conviction whatsoever. If the State adheres to a form of religious expression under the guise of cultural or historical reality or heritage, it breaches its duty of neutrality. If that religious expression also creates a distinction, exclusion or preference that has the effect of nullifying or impairing the right to full and equal recognition and exercise of freedom of conscience and religion, there is discrimination.”

Human Rights Digest 16-3, April 2015

"To the extent a person can be considered a "repeat offender", this necessarily impacts upon the determination whether there has been wilful and reckless contravention of the Code for the purposes of s. 31.4. Mr. Pontes' corporate entities were found to be in violation of the Code, for employment discrimination based on sex as early as December 6, 2007… He has been previously ordered to cease and desist. He has previously been sanctioned in costs for unreasonable and vexatious behaviour. He has, in past proceedings, been ordered to post anti-discrimination policies at Northwoods Inn & Suites. Mr. Pontes can be presumed to possess full knowledge of that which constitutes unacceptable conduct under the Code.

Human Rights Digest 16-2, February / March 2015

"When a manager, supervisor or owner of a business engages in sexualized comments, or permits another employee to engage in such conduct, he/she cannot rely on a complainant's silence or, indeed, participation to prove consent. The reason being the power imbalance and the potential fear of reprisal can be compelling reasons to remain silent or try to 'fit in' by participating in the conduct..”

Human Rights Digest 16-1, January 2015

"The Vice-Chair's reasons were … transparent, intelligible and with justification.”

Human Rights Digest 15-8, November / December 2014

"Both a fabricated complaint and a witness who has no regard for his or her solemn promise to tell the truth entirely undermine the hearing process. It results in an immense waste of Tribunal resources that could have been used for a legitimate complaint and is both unfair and potentially injurious for the opposing party.”

Human Rights Digest 15-7, October 2014

"Although 'colour' and'race' are distinct concepts under the Act, there are some who also extend the 'colourist' or 'shade-ist' idea to include a racial and perhaps even a cultural element. The idea is that as a person appears lighter, as she is 'closer' to white, she must therefore be less black, or less Asian, or less Indian – less 'ethnic'. Similarly, as a person appears more deeply complected in a non-white hue, she is considered more purely and more fully a member of the other race or ethnicity, and more fully integrated into, or more completely a part of that other racial or ethnic culture.”

Human Rights Digest 15-6, August / September 2014

"The multi-party process … is a collaborative one. The parties need to work together to determine the physical and mental disabilities that require accommodation, the nature of the accommodation required, and what steps might reasonably be taken to implement that accommodation. This process may take time, particularly when there are multiple persons requesting the same or similar accommodation …

The duty of the respondents is to provide a reasonable, not a perfect, accommodation.”

Human Rights Digest 15-5, July 2014

"Evidence was led during the course of the hearing which established the complainants' loss of dignity and self-worth as a result of being subjected to racial and, in the case of Ms. Barker, racial and sexual, harassment, substandard living conditions and not receiving their wages regularly, or at all. Mr. Balikama gave evidence of suffering a nervous breakdown; Mr. Bahati stated that he never expected to see people treated that way in Canada and that he compared the treatment to slavery. Mr. Wamwanga testified that he was demoralized and was afraid to apply for jobs that were not government jobs because private industry could treat people in the manner that he was treated by Khaira. Mr. Munga too compared the treatment to slavery. Mr. Kahamba also testified that how he was treated was not how he expected to be treated in Canada and that it affected him a lot. He said sometimes he cried."

Human Rights Digest 15-4, May/June 2014

"If the Board is considering the impact of the hearing itself and the social ostracism clearly suffered by both parties as having any impact on its assessment of damages, it is an error. The assessment of damages for injury must arise from the discrimination or sexual harassment itself and not the social consequences of the hearing and public response. Publicity clearly affects both the complainant and the subject of the complaint. The stress of the process cannot form part of the damages for injury to dignity, feelings or self-respect. All hearings before tribunals and courts are stressful and may elicit negative reaction in the community, but that is not generally a proper basis for an award of damages."

Human Rights Digest 15-3, April 2014

"... the respondent's decision to blatantly breach the [Employment Standards Act] by paying the applicant and other general labourers with developmental disabilities below the minimum wage was, by its very nature, an affront to their dignity and a disadvantage. It is no coincidence, in my view, that workers who receive less than the statutory minimum wage tend to be members of disadvantaged groups in society, and often have Code ground-related personal characteristics, such as a disability or a lack of immigration status."

Human Rights Digest 15-2, February/March 2014
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