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June 2016 Archives

Will Canada ban genetic discrimination in employment?

Genetic testing is becoming more common. As this scientific field develops, testing methods and options continue to advance and can provide both interesting and important information about ancestry and medical conditions that are genetically linked. Of course, this important information can also be used by some interested parties for improper reasons. Recognizing this, some countries have introduced legislation in this area to protection this genetic data, including by protecting employees from discrimination at work based on gtheir enetic information. The United States and Australia are two examples of countries which have introduced legislation in this vein. 

Penticton BC fire chief files suit alleging wrongful dismissal

The CBC reports that a former fire chief from Penticton in southern British Columbia has brought a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal by his former city employer. The 56-year-old plaintiff filed the action in the BC Supreme Court claiming that he was dismissed from his employment while he was on short-term disability and receiving workers' compensation for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from work-related trauma. 

Vancouver firefighter alleges race discrimination and harassment

The CBC reports that a 33-year-old man of El Salvadoran heritage who has lived in Canada since he was a boy has filed a human rights complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal alleging employment discrimination and harassment based on race in his former job as a Vancouver firefighter. Ironically, the alleged racial harassment by colleagues characterized him as Mexican and included the regular use of racial slurs and derogatory terms aimed at people of Mexican heritage. 

Introduction to section 13 of the BC Human Rights Code

The British Columbia Human Rights Code (the "Code") forbids discrimination in employment based on certain protected employee characteristics. Employees in BC who believe that they are the victim of employment discrimination may file a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, a administrative tribunal which has exclusive jurisdiction over hearing human rights matters that arise in BC at first instance. Decisions of the Tribunal may be appealed to the BC Supreme Court by either the employee or the employer. 

BC Supreme Court decides workers' compensation bullying claim

On May 25, 2016, the Supreme Court of British Columbia rendered a decision in a workers' compensation case that is getting media attention in the Vancouver area. The Court sent the case back to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal ("WCAT") requiring that entity to reconsider the case. The case involves a claim made to WorkSafeBC for compensation arising out of bullying and harassment at work under s. 5.1 of the British Columbia Workers Compensation Act (the "Act").

A sales employee developed a progressive speech disorder (eventually diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) that caused slurred speech, but did not impact his cognitive function or ability to perform his job. His employer allowed him to continue to work using email and text to communicate. The worker alleges that his immediate supervisor made derogatory comments about the employee's intelligence, spoke to him condescendingly, called him a liar and sent him a racially offensive cartoon. 

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