What Was Said

Significant quotes from recent decisions.

"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

"... The protection of employee privacy cannot be used to justify wilful ignorance or insulate the employer from its obligations to disabled employees."

Human Rights Digest 15-1, January 2014

"In my view, in the human rights context in particular, Justice not only seeks to rectify the violation of a person's rights, but should also endeavour to heal any suffering a person has endured as a result of unjust treatment. A fundamental component of healing is the recognition of suffering. The recognition of the hurt an individual or group has endured may address their need for justice, speed up the healing process, enhance feelings of self-value and promote respect for human dignity. While the judicial sphere often speaks in terms of what is legal or illegal, human values of what is right or wrong frequently transcend beyond formal legalities and may not always be encompassed in the current state of the law."

Human Rights Digest 14-8, November / December 2013

"When faced with a difficult family situation and a request for compassion, there is no indication that the Respondent considered its duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. Overall, the Respondent showed disregard and indifference for the Complainant's family status and for the consequences that its decision to deny the TDRA would have in this regard."

Human Rights Digest 14-7, October 2013

"[T]he fact that a workplace is found to be dangerous does not automatically give the employer the right to impose random testing unilaterally. The dangerousness of the workplace has only justified the testing of particular employees in certain circumstances: where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the employee was impaired while on duty, where the employee was directly involved in a workplace accident or significant incident, or where the employee returns to work after treatment for substance abuse."

Human Rights Digest 14-6, August / September 2013

"Offensive, irreverent and inappropriate language is taken to be the norm when you enter a comedy club. I will assume all of that to be so, and I accept that comedy clubs are places where performers push boundaries and sometimes try to generate outrage. It does not follow that comedy clubs are zones of absolute immunity from human rights legislation."

Human Rights Digest 14-5, July 2013

"The incidents that occurred during the applicant's term of employment and the termination of her employment were typical of many sexual harassment cases, and if that was all that had happened, the case would have fallen in the middle of the spectrum. What moved this case beyond the middle, in my view, were the individual respondent's subsequent stalker-like behaviour and its impact on the applicant. His behaviour not only had an impact on her mental and physical health, it also restricted her freedom of movement. I was particularly struck that she became so fearful (rationally so, in my view) that she was unable to go out at night without another person accompanying her."

Human Rights Digest 14-4, May / June 2013

"[I]t is difficult to have regard to family without giving thought to children in the family and the relationship between parents and children. The singular most important aspect of that relationship is the parents' care for children. It seems to me that if Parliament intended to exclude parental childcare obligations, it would have chosen language that clearly said so."

Human Rights Digest 14-3, April 2013
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