Recently, the Supreme Court issued a significant decision expanding the nature of possible harassment and discrimination claims.
In British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62, Mohammadreza Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul worked as a civil engineer consultant on a job site where he supervised workers who were not employed by his engineering firm. One of these workers, Edward Schrenk, repeatedly made discriminatory comments to Mr. Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul about his religion, sexual orientation, and birthplace. Eventually, he brought a human rights complaint against Schrenk and Schrenk’s employer.
Schrenk and his employer argued that they had no relationship to Mr. Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul and that since they were not his employer or colleague he could not bring a claim against them.
The Supreme Court disagreed. It held that the BC Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in the employment context. The Court said that the Code “protects individuals from discriminatory conduct regarding their employment no matter the identity of the perpetrator.” The Court continued that an individual may bring a human rights complaint if the:
- perpetrator was integral to the complainant’s workplace;
- the discrimination occurred in the complainant’s workplace; and
- the individual’s work performance or work environment was negatively affected.
Of importance, the Ontario Human Rights Code is worded in a similar manner to that of BC. So, if you are an employer in Ontario, you could now be required to defend against employment-based human rights claims from individuals who are not even your employees.
If you are facing a discrimination or harassment claim and are considering your legal options, you should consult a lawyer or contact us at [email protected] or 647-204-8107 and one of our lawyers would be happy to assist you.
A recent case underscores the importance of including a properly drafted termination clause in your organization’s employment contract. The Facts In March 2010, CIGI hired Mark Menard, a chartered accountant, as Senior Director of Finance. He was responsible for the...read more
If you are a director or a party to a unanimous shareholder agreement did you know that you are personally liable for unpaid wages and you could go to jail for up to one year for failing to pay them? So if you are a small business owner, have signed a unanimous...read more
Some recent changes in the law make Ontario’s employment laws more employer-friendly - especially for small businesses. This blog discusses five of these changes. Eliminating a scheduled increase in the minimum wage Under Bill 148, the minimum wage was scheduled to...read more