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Human Rights Law - DISCRIMINATION - Prohibited grounds - Mental or physical disability - Context - Workplace discrimination - Job competition - Qualifications

Thursday, December 15, 2016 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by Hughes from a Federal Court decision, setting aside a ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal that Hughes was subjected to discrimination on the basis of mental disability in a Transport Canada hiring process. The Tribunal found that it was discriminatory for the hiring panel to have screened Hughes out of the process after he revealed to the panel chair that he suffered from mental health issues resulting from treatment by a former employer. The Tribunal also found discrimination by the panel in declining to find that performance appraisals tendered by Hughes provided sufficient proof of his detail-oriented nature, in lieu of providing personal references. The Federal Court indicated that it would review the Tribunal’s decision on the standard of reasonableness. It went on to disagree with the Tribunal that it was problematic for the hiring panel to penalize Hughes for his lack of references, and that his documentation in lieu of references self-evidently illustrated his attention to detail in the same manner as personal references.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The Tribunal’s decision was restored. The Federal Court was too interventionist in re-weighing the evidence and re-deciding the case. The evidence was clear that the decision on Hughes’ candidacy was not made until after he revealed his disability, as the basis for his failure to provide references. The evidence also showed that the chair was instrumental in giving Hughes a failing grade on the detail-oriented criterion. There was a basis for the Tribunal to find that the documents Hughes provided were as adequate as the verbal references the successful candidates provided. The Tribunal’s decision was reasonable.