Alberta Human Rights Information Service May 6, 2015

 

In this issue:

Human rights case law: Court and tribunal decisions

Commission news

Other human rights and diversity news:

             Alberta news

Publications and Resources

HUMAN RIGHTS CASE LAW: COURT AND TRIBUNAL DECISIONS

1. I
mportant court decision related to human rights:

SMS Equipment Inc v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local  707, 2015 ABQB 162 (Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, March 10, 2015)
Court upholds arbitrator's decision that single mother was discriminated against on the ground of family status

Ms. Cahill-Saunders was an apprentice welder and single mother of  two young children. She was required to work "seven days on followed by seven days off and [rotate] night and day shifts each seven-day tour of work." Ms. Cahill-Saunders requested that her shifts be changed to straight day shifts to accommodate challenges she was experiencing with childcare. The employer refused her request and the Union filed a grievance on her behalf.

The Union's grievance proceeded to arbitration, where the Arbitrator held the requirement for Ms. Cahill-Saunders, as a single mother of two young children, to work rotating night and days shifts discriminated against her on the basis of family status.

On judicial review, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench upheld the Arbitrator's decision as reasonable, holding that: "family status" includes the duties and responsibilities of childcare; the Union had established a prima facie case of discrimination; and the employer was obligated to accommodate Ms. Cahill-Saunders. The Court further held that the employer, in refusing to call evidence regarding whether it could accommodate Ms. Cahill-Saunders, had failed to justify the discrimination as a bona fide occupational requirement. 

2. The Commission recently released the following tribunal decisions:

  • Charlotte Mortland v. Peace Wapiti School Division No. 76 and Bill VanRootselaar v. Peace Wapiti School Division No. 76 (April 29, 2015; Sarah FitzGerald, Tribunal Chair)
  • Farhat Amir (on behalf of Sarmad Amir) v. Webber Academy Foundation and Shabnam Nazar (on behalf of  Naman Siddique) v. Webber Academy Foundation (April 10, 2015; Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett, Tribunal Chair; William J. Johnson, Q.C., Tribunal Member; Melissa Luhtanen, Tribunal Member)
  • Kristen Hutton v. ARC Business Solutions Inc. (Preliminary Matters Decision Regarding Validity of a Severance Agreement; April 7, 2015; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Chair)
  • Tammy Cooper v. 133668899 Ltd. (o/a Best Western Strathmore Inn) (March 11, 2015; Melissa L. Luhtanen, Tribunal Chair)
  • Kathalin Horvath v. Rocky View School Division No. 41 (March 5, 2015; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Chair)
  • April Labbe v. Calgary Co-operative Association Limited (February 24, 2015; Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett, Tribunal Chair)
  • Jan Buterman v. Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division No. 29 (Preliminary Matters Decision Regarding Jurisdiction; February 4, 2015; Majority Decision: William J. Johnson, Q.C., Tribunal Chair; Joanne Archibald, Tribunal Member; Dissenting Opinion: Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett, Tribunal Member)

These tribunal decisions can be accessed free of charge through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.

COMMISSION NEWS

1. The Commission attended recent events:

  • Alberta Council of Disability Services Conference: Cam Stewart, Policy and Program Consultant, Alberta Human Rights Commission, and Sharon Remple, Executive Director, Southern Alberta Individualized Planning Association, facilitated the workshop session Know Your Rights! Human Rights for All Albertans at the 2015 Alberta Council of Disability Services Conference held in Calgary from April 29 to May 1, 2015. Over 350 delegates, including community-based service provider members who support people with developmental disabilities or brain injuries from across Alberta, attended the conference.

  • Symposium on Making Data Meaningful: Research Exchange and Collaboration on Homelessness in Alberta and 7 Cities Housing First Conference: Cam Stewart, Policy and Program Consultant, Alberta Human Rights Commission, and Kaylee Ramage, Project Manager, Calgary Homeless Foundation and the Homeless Charter Project, facilitated a workshop session titled Involving persons with lived experiences in homeless research at the Symposium on Making Data Meaningful: Research Exchange and Collaboration on Homelessness in Alberta in Calgary from April 22 to 23, 2015. Cassie Palamar, Director of Education and Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission, also attended the symposium.

    Mr. Stewart and Ms. Ramage will also be facilitating a session at the 7 Cities Housing First Conference 2015 to be held in Edmonton from May 6 to 8, 2015. This session will include participation by people with lived experiences in homelessness to bridge the gap between academia, government and community stakeholders who are working to impact public policy and end homelessness.

  • Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative Round Dance and Feast: The Alberta Human Rights Commission partnered with the Calgary Police Service and the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative to host a traditional Round Dance and Feast on March 22, 2015. Cam Stewart, Policy and Program Consultant, Alberta Human Rights Commission, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Commission. Mr. Stewart spoke about this year's theme for March 21 (International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination), Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today. He spoke about how Albertans must learn from past injustices against Aboriginal people to prevent future incidents of racism and discrimination. The Round Dance drew over 300 participants, including Elder Doreen Spence who was honoured with the YMCA Peace Medal, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

  • Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Conference: On March 14, 2015, Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, presented a session, The Duty to Accommodate, at the Annual Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Conference for Locals sponsored by the Alberta Teachers' Association. 

  • Human Rights in Employment Forum Series: Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, along with Adriana Tulissi, Community Engagement Manager, SU Wellness Centre, University of Calgary, led a panel discussion on accommodating religious beliefs in the workplace on March 11, 2015 in Edmonton. You can read more about the forum on the Commission Events page.

    Ms. Ashcroft, along with Darrell Peterson, Senior Legal Counsel, Enbridge Pipelines Inc., and Karen Hume, Workplace Wellness Consultant, Canadian Mental Health Association, led a panel discussion on accommodating mental disabilities in the workplace at a human rights forum on January 28, 2015 in Calgary.

  • Education Law Section Meeting: On March 11, 2015, Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, attended and spoke at the Education Law Section meeting of the Edmonton Chapter, Canadian Bar Association. Mr. Philp spoke about the Commission's education and engagement work around issues that prevent people from full participation. He outlined some of the Commission's programs and services that are aimed at preventing discrimination and promoting and advancing human rights, equality, and appreciation and respect for diversity and inclusion.

  • Canadian Bar Association:  Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, and Glenn Solomon, Q.C., of JSS Barristers spoke about privacy and human rights at a Canadian Bar Association luncheon in Calgary on February 23, 2015. Ms. Ashcroft presented on the intersection of privacy and human rights while Mr. Solomon spoke about the quasi constitutional nature of privacy rights in the context of his recent case before the Supreme Court of Canada, Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, 2013 SCC 62.

  • Western Labour and Employee Relations Forum: Janice Ashcroft, Q.C., Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, along with Ryley Mennie of McCarthy Tetrault, presented at the Western Labour and Employee Relations Forum in Vancouver, B.C., on January 29, 2015.  Ms. Ashcroft and Mr. Mennie presented the session, Overview of Recent Human Rights Cases and Decisions.

  • Labour and Employment Seminar: Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, was one of the presenters at the Labour and Employment Seminar at the Legal Education Society of Alberta's Labour and Employment Seminar on January 22, 2015 in Edmonton and February 5, 2015 in Calgary. Mr. Philp spoke about present and future changes at the Commission, including the implementation of the Director's Referral Program to move certain types of cases to the Tribunal more quickly. In addition there was general discussion about a recent family status decision and abot possible gender identity and gender expression complaints.

2. New Commission information sheet on investigation: The Commission released a new information sheet, Investigation, that explains the investigation process used in the human rights complaint process. The information sheet is available in a printable pdf version and a text version.

3. Commission Annual Report: The Commission has released its 2013-14 Annual Report. The report provides a summary of results achieved in the Commission's three areas of activity: education and engagement, complaint resolution, and complaint adjudication. Read the report.

4. Upcoming Human Rights in Employment Forum and Human Rights in the Workplace public workshops:

The Commission is offering a breakfast forum in Calgary on May 28, 2015. The topic of the forum is Accommodating Religious Beliefs in the Workplace. You can read more about the forum and register online

The Commission is also offering two upcoming Human Rights in the Workplace public workshops on June 10, 2015 in Edmonton and June 24, 2015 in Calgary. You can read more about the public workshops and learn how to register.

5. Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund:




The Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (the Fund) provides grants that support community projects that foster equality and reduce discrimination. This outcome-based grant assists non-profit organizations, public institutions and communities to address issues such as social exclusion, inequality of opportunity, discrimination, racism and other barriers that limit Albertans' ability to be full and contributing citizens. 

Recently completed projects that were supported by the Fund:

6.  2015 Diversity Leadership Award of Distinction



Once again, the Commission partnered with the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to offer the 2015 Diversity Leadership Award of Distinction, which is part of the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction program.

This year, two deserving businesses, who both exhibited strong leadership in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, were awarded the 2015 Diversity Leadership Award.

On February 27, 2015, Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, presented the award to Prospect Human Services of Calgary and Westcan Bulk Transport of Edmonton at an awards event in Leduc, Alberta.

Other finalists of the Diversity Leadership Award of Distinction, also recognized for their efforts in building diverse and inclusive workplaces, were the City of Calgary and Aerotek of Calgary.

Nominations for this award open in September. You can read more about the Diversity Leadership Award.



Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, announcing the recipients of the 2015 Diversity Leadership Awards of Distinction.



Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, with 2015 Diversity Leadership Award recipient Melanie Mitra, Chief Executive Officer, Prospect Human Services.



Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, with 2015 Diversity Leadership Award recipient Zoe LeParque, Communications Associate, Westcan Bulk Transport.

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 

Alberta news

1. Legislation enables gay-straight alliances in schools:
On March 10, 2015, the Alberta Government passed the amended Bill 10 that allows students to set up gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in their schools. The bill now awaits Royal Assent, and will come into force on June 1, 2015. You can read the Government of Alberta news release.

2. Transgender Albertans can easily change birth records: Regulatory changes will help transgender Albertans, including those who have not undergone gender re-assignment surgery, to update their personal documents, including birth certificates, government-issued ID cards or driver's licenses. Amendments to the Vital Statistics Information Regulation will ensure it is consistent with the new change of sex provisions in the recently updated Vital Statistics Act. You can read the Government of Alberta news release.

PUBLICATIONS AND RESOURCES

1. Guide for Engaging Ethnocultural Communities: Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) released the guide  Engaging Ethnocultural Communities: A Guide for Municipalities. From the WIC website: "The purpose of this Guide is to provide a practical and easy to use resource that municipal staff can use to engage with ethnocultural (EC) communities. It includes information on why engaging with EC communities is important and strategies to use ."

2. New resources from the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre: The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) offers a number of new resources on their website:

3. New website offering human rights resources: The Calgary Anti-Racism Education (CARED) Collective has launched a website offering resources about anti-racism and human rights issues.

4. The Right to Human Rights Education: The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently launched a web resource, The Right to Human Rights Education, that brings together all human rights education commitments of international and regional forums. You can view a YouTube video on the launch of the resource.

5. Human Rights Activities for the Classroom: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights offers classroom activities to promote human rights for students from kindergarten to grade 12. The Human Rights Activities for the Classroom include:


6. Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative policy position report: The Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI) released a policy position document, A Good Walk: Policy that Builds Long Term Practices, outlining how intergenerational trauma (IT) and historical trauma (HT) impact programs and services for Aboriginal communities. The report includes recommendations for action and change. You can read the following:

7. Report on sexual exploitation and trafficking of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada: The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) released their report Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls: Literature Review and Key Informant Interviews. From the NWAC website: "The report provides valuable recommendations and practices to help Aboriginal women and girls to exit situations of sexual exploitation."

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