February 4, 2013
Federal court upholds Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision on family status accommodation
Ottawa – The Federal Court has upheld a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal saying that employers cannot discriminate against employees with family obligations.
- Federal court decision: Attorney General of Canada and Fiona Ann Johnstone and Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Canadian Human Rights Commission decision: Fiona Ann Johnstone and Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canada Border Services
Fiona Johnstone, a Canadian Border Services Officer and a member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, first filed a human rights complaint against the Canadian Border Services Agency on April 23, 2004 because they refused to accommodate her request for fixed shifts so she could arrange childcare. At the time both Johnstone and her husband were working rotating and irregular shifts.
CBSA claimed it did not have to provide accomodation to employees just so they could arrange childcare, meaning Johnstone had to accept part-time work in order to care for her children.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in August 2010 that Johnstone was discriminated against because of her family status. CBSA filed an application for judicial review, arguing that the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of family status does not extend to family responsibilities.
The Federal Court decision, released late last week, rejected CBSA's argument, finding that the definition of family status includes childcare obligations. The decision confirms that family status must be offered the same protection granted to all the other prohibited grounds of discrimination under human rights legislation.
“This is a huge win for all Canadian workers with family obligations,” said PSAC National President, Robyn Benson. “It is clear now that employers must carefully consider each and every family status accommodation request and accommodate them short of undue hardship.”
The Public Service Alliance of Canada represents 9000 workers at the Canadian Border Services Agency.
For more information and to book interviews:
Alain Cossette, PSAC Communications, 613-293-9210 (cell)
Date Modified : 2013/02/12