Alberta Human Rights Information Service September 24, 2014

 In this issue:

Human rights case law: Court decision

Commission news

Other human rights and diversity news:

Significant dates

Canadian news

HUMAN RIGHTS CASE LAW: COURT DECISION

1. I
mportant court decision related to human rights:

Lethbridge Industries Ltd. v. Alberta (Human Rights Commission), 2014 ABQB 496 (Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, August 18, 2014)
Court upholds Alberta Human Rights Tribunal finding of discrimination regarding dismissal of employee with disabilities 

Mr. Schulz, a  long-term employee with disabilities, was dismissed by his employer, Lethbridge Industries Ltd., on the basis of absenteeism. The Alberta Human Rights Tribunal (the Tribunal) held that the dismissal constituted  prima facie discrimination as the disabilities caused the absenteeism which in turn precipitated the termination. The employer had, in the past, allowed the employee unpaid time off and leave. The Tribunal held that there was no evidence of undue hardship in continuing to employ Mr. Schulz. The Tribunal further held that the employer had failed in its duties of  procedural accommodation in that it dismissed the employee without any notice that the previous accommodation was no longer going to be honoured, and did not undertake any exploration of other options to accommodate the employee. The Tribunal ordered 30 months of lost wages with no deduction for Long Term Disability benefits (LTD) on the basis that the employee had contributed to the LTD plan through payroll deductions. General damages in the amount of $10,000 were also ordered. 

Lethbridge Industries Ltd. appealed the decision to the Court of Queen's Bench. The Court upheld the findings of the Tribunal with respect to discrimination, accepting the Tribunal's analysis as amply supported by the law and by the evidence. With respect to remedy, the Court scaled back the 30-month wage replacement to 20 months, noting that while human rights awards are not dictated by wrongful dismissal notice periods, they may be considered as a factor. On the issue of whether LTD benefits should be deducted from lost wages awarded under human rights legislation, the Court invited submissions from the parties to place the actual insurance/LTD policy before the Court and make further submissions as to whether or not the LTD benefits should have been deducted. The Court noted that the LTD policy was not in evidence before the Tribunal and accordingly there was not enough information to make a finding on this point.  

COMMISSION NEWS

1. Upcoming human rights in employment public workshops:
Edmonton: October 1, 2014
Calgary: October 29, 2014

You can still register for these full-day public workshops. The workshops will provide participants with:

  • an overview of Alberta's human rights legislation,
  • information about the duty to accommodate,
  • an understanding of harassment in the workplace, and
  • strategies for preventing harassment in the workplace.

The Human Resources Institute of Alberta has approved six Continuing Professional Development hours for Certified Human Resource Professionals (CHRP) in Alberta when attending the public workshops. Read more about the workshops.

You can register online for the October 1, 2014 public workshop held in Edmonton.
You can register online for the October 29, 2014 public workshop held in Calgary.

2. Revised Commission complaint form and guide: The Commission has revised its Human Rights Complaint Form and Guide to reflect current Commission processes. This publication includes the form for making a human rights complaint as well as a guide. The guide offers general information about making a human rights complaint and the complaint process as well as instructions for writing the complaint. The complaint form and guide is available in various formats. You can read more about the various formats and how to request them.

3. Revised Commission complaint process guides for complainants and respondents: The Commission has revised the following guides to reflect the Commission's current human rights complaint process. These guides offer a comprehensive description of the Commission's complaint process and outline the rights and responsibilities of the complainant and respondent.

  • The Human Rights Complaint Process: A guide for complainants:
A printable pdf version and text version are available.
  • The Human Rights Complaint Process: A guide for respondents: A printable pdf version and text version are available.
  • You can also order these guides using the Commission's publications order form.

    4. Revised Commission information sheet on conciliation: The Commission information sheet Conciliation has been revised to provide updated information about the conciliation process that is used in the human rights complaint process. The information sheet is available in a printable pdf version and a text version.

    5. The Commission attended recent events:

    • Human rights in employment forum: The Commission hosted the human rights in employment forum Family Status Accommodation and Compassionate Care Leave: What are they and how do they apply to your workplace? on September 10, 2014 in Calgary. Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, welcomed the participants and thanked them for their interest in learning more about the Compassionate Care Leave amendments to the Employment Standards Code. Darrell Petersen, Senior Legal Counsel, Enbridge Pipelines Inc., and Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, shared their subject matter expertise and guided participants through the discussion on rights and obligations concerning family status protection and Compassionate Care Leave. You can read more about the forum on the Events page of the Commission website.



      Mr. Darrell Petersen, Senior Legal Counsel, Enbridge Pipelines Inc.; Ms. Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission; and Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, at the forum.

  • GlobalFest Human Rights Forum 2014

    On August 13, 2014, Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, offered the keynote address at the GlobalFest Human Rights Forum 2014. This annual forum, presented by TD as part of Calgary's GlobalFest celebrations, aims to promote diversity, cross-cultural respect, and equality to encourage systemic change across the Canadian community in a positive and safe environment. The forum topics are structured around UNESCO Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD). The Commission has been involved with CCMARD since 2005.

    Mr. Philp's presentation, Justice - Fighting Inequality by Engaging the Marginalized, focused on strategies for engaging marginalized populations in order to address inequities and find solutions for a more inclusive and just society. The Commission also participated in the week-long event with its display, providing information and resources on human rights and on the Commission's programs and services.

    Other speakers included Elder Leonard Bastien of Child and Family Services and Stuart Murray, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. You can read more about the forum.
     


    Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, offers the keynote address to forum delegates.
  • 6. Nominations open for the Diversity Leadership Award of Distinction 2015:

    Nominations are now open for the Alberta Human Rights Commission Diversity Leadership Award of Distinction. The Diversity Leadership Award recognizes workplaces that welcome diversity in their workforces, are eliminating discrimination and barriers to employment and are helping to build respectful and inclusive workplaces. The Diversity Leadership Award is one of the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction. Organizations in all sectors, including businesses, community organizations and public institutions, are eligible to apply. The deadline for nominations is November 28, 2014. You can read more about the award.

    7. Restorative Justice Practices Project: The Alberta Restorative Justice Association (ARJA) recently hosted an Inclusive Restorative Justice Practices Project Showcase. Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, brought greetings to the participants. He commended the ARJA for leading this important initiative, and congratulated the community organizations for making sincere efforts to engage in a variety of inclusive projects. Other Commission representatives also attended the event.

    With funding support from the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund, ARJA was able to provide 10 restorative justice organizations with grants of $3,000 each to help make restorative programming more culturally sensitive and accessible. At the showcase, grant recipients shared information about their project, the results and impact they had achieved, and identified their learning and future plans.

    You can read more about the project and read the Inclusive Restorative Practices Review Guide that was produced as part of the project.

    8. Making Treaty 7 educational materials: In 2012, Commission staff began working with the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society to produce educational materials that would help facilitate discussions about historical and current human rights issues that stem from the events at Blackfoot Crossing in 1877 and the signing of Treaty 7. Aboriginal Elders played an integral part in the process of producing these resources. 

    Comprehensive study guides and community information sessions will facilitate informed intergenerational and intercultural discussion about the main themes explored in a performance called We are all treaty people.

    PLEASE NOTE: In the following sections of the newsletter, we publish news and information provided by other organizations. We also link to other websites related to human rights and diversity. The Commission provides this information as a service and is not responsible for the content provided by other organizations on their websites or by other means. Please direct comments or inquiries regarding these organizations or their websites to the organization in question.

    OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS AND DIVERSITY NEWS 

    Significant dates

    There are a number of significant international, national and provincial days related to human rights and diversity taking place in October and November, including: 

    • International Day of the Girl Child
    • Persons Day
    • International Day for Tolerance
    • National Bullying Awareness Week

    You can read about these dates and other upcoming significant dates.

    Canadian news

    1. Communication Access Now: Communication Disabilities Access Canada announced a national project to promote communication accessibility for people with speech and language disabilities. From the Communication Access Now website: "This project ... will provide education and resources about making goods and services accessible for this population."   

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