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Discrimination claim initially denied by CHRC gets second look

Readers may be aware that there are laws in place in Canada that prohibit discrimination based on gender. Under those laws, among other things, the compensation a worker receives cannot be negatively impacted as a result of one’s gender. Sometimes claims filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commissions alleging discriminatory behavior are accepted and a case commences. Other times however, they are denied. It is important that employees in this situation recognize that a denial by the CHRC is not necessarily the end of the process. A recent Federal Court of Appeal ruling illustrates this.

In 2002, the Public Service Alliance of Canada filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The complaint alleged that in not awarding some female employees required pay equity adjustments, Nav Canada and the Treasury Board discriminated against those women.

Without conducting an investigation into the matter, the CHRC dismissed the complaint on the grounds that it was outside of its jurisdiction. A Federal Court decision latter affirmed that dismissal. The Federal Court of Appeal recently reversed those decisions.

In its ruling the court indicated the commission’s conclusion that complaint did not “plainly and obviously contain reasonable grounds” to suggest the wages were discriminatory, was unreasonable. As a result of this ruling it is expected that an investigation into the allegation will be conducted. Depending on those findings it is possible that the women who did not receive the required pay equity adjustments could be compensated.

Employment matters of this nature could take some time to sort out. Because of the complexities tied to these types of claims it is important to work with a lawyer who is well versed in the subject.

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