Discrimination Media Release
Updated: April 15, 2021
Vancouver B.C. – B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner has applied to intervene in her first case since her appointment in September 2019. The Commissioner is asking the Supreme Court of British Columbia to allow her to make arguments in a case involving discrimination against parents of young children by their employer, the Harvey v. Gibraltar Mines Ltd. case. The Commissioner plans to focus her intervention on the legal test for family status discrimination.
The Commissioner’s mandate to promote and protect human rights in B.C. includes intervening in legal cases with the potential to protect human rights at the systemic level. Commissioner Govender believes Harvey v. Gibraltar to be such a case.
“This case will set a crucial standard for how employers must treat employees with childcare or other caregiving responsibilities,” Commissioner Govender said. “B.C.’s Human Rights Code offers protections for employees against discrimination on the basis of family status, which is important to ensure gender equality in the workplace.”
The Harvey v. Gibraltar case involves a human rights complaint from a welder employed at Gibraltar Mines Ltd. The employee alleges her employer discriminated against her by refusing to allow her or her husband—an electrician employed at the same worksite—to change their schedules to accommodate their childcare responsibilities. At the time in question, both the complainant and her husband worked the same 12-hour shift.
The employee brought her complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Gibraltar Mines applied to have the complaint dismissed, but the Tribunal denied the application. Gibraltar then filed for a judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision to allow the complaint to be heard. The Supreme Court of British Columbia will conduct the review, which will include arguments about the proper interpretation of B.C.’s Human Rights Code’s protections against family status discrimination in employment.
The Commissioner will argue that she should be granted leave to intervene in this judicial review on April 30, 2021. Dates for the judicial review have not yet been set.
“Women are disproportionately responsible for the care of children, the elderly and people with disabilities, both within their families and in society at large,” Commissioner Govender noted. “We are seeking leave to intervene in this case to ensure that the Human Rights Code provides meaningful protections for women who face discrimination at work on the basis of their caregiving responsibilities at home.”
Commissioner Govender is not available for interviews. If you are a member of the media and require further assistance please contact Elaine O’Connor, Acting Director, Communications, at Elaine.OConnor@bchumanrights.ca or 1-250-216-4534.
- BCOHRC’s notice of application of leave to intervene
- BC Human Rights Tribunal decision: Harvey v. Gibraltar Mines Ltd. (No.2), 2020 BCHRT 193
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BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner exists to address the root causes of inequality, discrimination and injustice in B.C. by shifting laws, policies, practices and cultures. We do this work through education, research, advocacy, inquiry and monitoring. Learn more at: bchumanrights.ca
About the Commissioner
B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender, started her five-year term on Sept. 3, 2019. Since then, our Office has been working swiftly to build a strong team, to listen deeply to the concerns of British Columbians, to deliver education materials on our rights and responsibilities, to issue policy guidance to protect marginalized communities and to lay a human rights-based foundation for our work. As an Independent Officer of the Legislature, the Commissioner is uniquely positioned to ensure human rights in B.C. are protected, respected and advanced on a systemic level throughout our society.
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