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Family Status

Tribunal orders CNR to reinstate three female employees who declined transfers because they had young children

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal
Sector: - Transportation

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued three companion decisions last week in which they ordered the Canadian National Railway to reinstate three female employees who had been terminated when they declined temporary transfers from Jasper, Alberta to Vancouver, BC because they had young children.

The Tribunal found that the employees had been discriminated against on the basis of "family status".

CNR was also required to pay damages for lost earnings, pain and suffering and wilful and reckless conduct.

The decisions are:  read more »

"Family Status: Evolving Trends and the Need for Novel Accommodation"

Two lawyers at Gowlings -Jennifer Vermiere (Vancouver) and Myriane Le François (Montréal)  - have written a paper entitled, "Family Status: Evolving Trends and the Need for Novel Accommodation" (2010).

Discrimination based on "family status" where Canada Border Services refused to modify schedule for mother of two

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

In a decision issued last month - Johnstone v. Canada Border Services, 2010 CHRT 20 - the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ("CHRT") found discrimination based on "family status" where Canada Border Services refused to modify the work schedule for an employee who was the mother of two young children but who wanted to still have full-time hours.

The decision re-affirms that the scope of "family status" in human rights legislation can encompass childcare responsibilities.

Law firm Oglivy Renault has written a good summary of the decision ("Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Weighs In on Accommodating Employee Childcare Obligations") which can be found here.

Both parties have apparently filed an application with the Federal Court of Canada for judicial review of the decision, Ms. Johnstone on the basis that the CHRT should have awarded her reimbursement for her legal fees.  read more »

An overview of how Canadian jurisdictions approach discrimination based on "family status"

A high-level overview of how Canadian jurisdictions approach discrimination based on "family status": 

  • It is included as a prohibited ground in relation to employment in each Canadian jurisdiction except New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
  • Saskatchewan defines it as being in a parent-child relationship.
  • Quebec uses the term "civil status".
  • The Northwest Territories has a prohibition on the grounds of "family status" as well as "family affiliation".

(My source was this publication on the Canadian Human Rights Commission's website, which was last updated in early 2009).

British Columbia's "Employment Law Conference 2010" (CLE)

As I noted in my post a few days ago, I presented a paper on The Law on Workplace Investigations: An Update on Key Developments on May 13, 2010 at the BC "Employment Law Conference 2010" Continuing Legal Education (CLE).

The other presenters on Day 1, and their topics, were:  read more »

"What Constitutes Family Status Discrimination?"

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - Utilities

"What Constitutes Family Status Discrimination?" (March 24, 2010) is the title of an article written by Maria Kotsopulous, a lawyer at Blaney McMurtry in Ontario.

The article addresses the arbitration award in IBEW, Local 636 vs. Power Stream Inc. (Bender) (Re),  186 L.A.C. (4th) (June 11, 2009) (N Jesin) (Ontario).

The article was originally published in the newsletter Employment Notes.

Making single mother work night shifts not discrimination based on family status, Alberta arbitration board rules

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

A three-person Alberta arbitration board has ruled that making a single mother of a 11 year-old work 30 or so night shifts a year is not discrimination based on family status. The case is Government of Alberta (Solicitor General Department) and Alberta Union of Provincial Employees ("Jungwirth Grievance") (February 15, 2010).

As it relates the law in this unsettled area, the board stated:  read more »

More on discrimination based on "family status"

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Law firm Fasken Martineau issued an e-bulletin today entitled "Employee's Family Obligations: To what Extent must they be Accommodated?". It offers some practical advice for employers to follow when confronted with this murky area of law that is still in its early stages of development.

I have previously written posts on discrimination based on family status - including on the same case discussed by Faskens - that can be found here and here.  read more »

Discrimination based on "family status" not found in case where employee was fired for refusing to work overtime

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC Human Rights Tribunal recently ruled in Falardeau v. Ferguson Moving et al 2009 BCHRT 272 that an employer did not discriminate against a single father employee on the basis of "family status" when it fired him for refusing to work overtime.

In doing so, the Tribunal cited the BC Court of Appeal's decision in Health Sciences Assn. of British Columbia v. Campbell River and North Island Transition Society, 2004 BCCA 260, where the Court discussed, but did not define, discrimination based on family status:  read more »