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DISCRIMINATION - Prohibited grounds - Family status

Monday, March 11, 2019 @ 9:44 AM  

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Appeal by the employer from the dismissal of its judicial review application from a decision of the Human Rights Tribunal denying its application to dismiss a former employee’s complaint of adverse effect discrimination on a preliminary basis. The employee alleged the appellant discriminated against him based on family status when, shortly after the birth of his daughter, it assigned him to a project that required him to be away from home for eight to ten weeks. The appellant terminated the employee’s employment when he refused to accept that assignment. The Tribunal held that the employee could establish direct discrimination in that his employment was terminated because he had become a parent. Indirect discrimination was also established on the basis that there had been a change in a term or condition of his employment that resulted in a serious interference with a substantial parental or other family duty or obligation.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The facts alleged by the employee were only capable of establishing the undisputed fact that he was a parent. While his desire to remain close to home to be with his child and to assist his wife in caring for the child outside of his normal weekday working hours and on weekends was understandable and commendable, he was no different than the vast majority of parents. Nothing in the complaint or affidavit suggested his child would not be well cared for in his absence.

Envirocon Environmental Services ULC v. Suen, [2019] B.C.J. No. 146, British Columbia Court of Appeal, S.D. Frankel, S. Stromberg-Stein and R. Goepel JJ.A., February 5, 2019. Digest No. TLD-March112019003