Supreme Court Rules on Undue Hardship
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Quebec Court of Appeal erred in a decision on undue hardship.
In this case the grievor was an employee of Hydro-Québec, who had numerous physical and mental problems, including tendinitis, epicondylitis and bursitis. She had undergone a number of surgical procedures for various problems, took medication for hypothyroidism and hypertension, and had episodes of reactive depression and a mixed personality disorder. During the last seven and a half years that she was employed by Hydro-Québec, between January 1994 and July 2001, she missed 960 days of work. One of the main problems was that her personality disorder resulted in deficient coping mechanisms and, as a result, her relationships with supervisors and co-workers were difficult.
Over the years, the employer adjusted her working conditions, gave her light duties, and assigned her to different positions. In July 2001 she was dismissed. She had been absent from work...
Hydro-Québec v. Syndicat des employé-e-s de techniques professionnelles et de bureau d'Hydro-Québec, section locale 2000 (SCFP-FTQ) (2008), 63 C.H.R.R. D/301, 2008 SCC 43
SCC Requires Accessible Rail Cars
The Supreme Court of Canada, in a split 5–4 decision, overturned a ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal, and held that the Canadian Transportation Agency's requirement that Via Rail modify rail cars was reasonable. The appeal concerned the rights of people with disabilities to accessible rail transportation under the Canadian Transportation Act and raised questions about the extent to which persons who use wheelchairs must be able to be self-reliant when using the national railway.
In late 2000, VIA purchased 139 used cars and car parts, costing $29.8 million, renamed the "Renaissance cars", by VIA. None of the cars was accessible to persons with disabilities using personal wheelchairs. There was no "plan document" to enhance accessibility when the cars were purchased. VIA's position from the outset was that the cars were sufficiently accessible. VIA proposed that its employees would transfer passengers into on-board wheelchairs, deliver their meals, assist...
Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. Via Rail Canada Inc. (2007), 59 C.H.R.R. D/276, 2007 SCC 15
Termination After Three Years Absence Not Discriminatory
The majority of the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the McGill University Health Centre (Montreal General Hospital) did not discriminate against Alice Brady when it terminated her employment after three years' absence due to disability.
Alice Brady worked for the Montreal General Hospital as a medical secretary, a position she held since 1985. In 2000, she had a nervous breakdown and she was off work almost continuously until 2002. She attempted to return to work on a part-time basis at one point, but the Hospital sent her home because she was disorganized and behaved inappropriately. She was scheduled for a return to full-time work in September 2002, but she was in a car accident in July 2002, which made her unable to work for an indefinite period. The Hospital decided to terminate Ms. Brady's employment as of April 3, 2003, when she was still unable to return to work.
The collective agreement between the Hospital and the Syndicat des employés de...
McGill University Health Centre v. Syndicat des employés de l'Hôpital général de Montréal (2007), 59 C.H.R.R. D/259, 2007 SCC 4
Perceived Disability Protected
The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously ruled that the City of Montreal and the City of Boisbriand discriminated against Réjeanne Mercier and Palmerino Troilo on the basis of handicap thus confirming the broad interpretation given to the term "handicap" by the Québec Court of Appeal ((1998), 33 C.H.R.R. D/149).
The City of Montréal refused to hire Mercier as a gardener-horticulturist after a pre-employment medical exam revealed an anomaly of the spinal column. Mercier had never had any symptoms or limitations in performing her normal activities. The City of Boisbriand dismissed Troilo from his position as a police officer because he suffered from Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestine, even though the medical reports indicated that he was asymptomatic and therefore able to perform the duties of a police officer. In a third case, similar to that of Mercier, the Communauté urbaine de Montréal refused to hire Jean-Marc Hamon as a police officer because...
Québec (Comm. des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) et Mercier c. Montréal (Ville) (2000), 37 C.H.R.R. D/271, 2000 SCC 27
Terry Grismer Wins
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles discriminated against Terry Grismer by refusing him a driver’s licence because he had homonymous hemianopia (H. H.) which eliminated most of his left side peripheral vision in both eyes.
Terry Grismer had a stroke in 1984 at age 40. As a result of the stroke, he suffered H.H. Persons with H.H. always have less than 120 degrees of peripheral vision and no person with H.H. is issued a driver’s licence in B.C. The Motor Vehicles Branch cancelled Grismer’s licence.
Grismer claimed that through the use of glasses with prisms, extra mirrors on his truck, and regular movement of his head, he could compensate for his disability and drive safely. He alleged that he was discriminated because he was not given an individual assessment. Instead, the simple fact that he had H.H. barred from having a driver’s licence.
Applying the new unified test that was fashioned in...
British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles) v. British Columbia (Council of Human Rights) (1999), 36 C.H.R.R. D/129 (S.C.C.)
Limitation of Benefits to the Mentally Disabled Discriminatory
The Supreme Court of Canada dismisses an appeal by Battlefords and District Co-operative Limited from a decision of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld a Board of Inquiry ruling that the Co-operative discriminated against Betty-Lu Clara Gibbs on the ground of mental disability because of the terms of an employment-related insurance plan.
Ms. Gibbs is an employee of the Battlefords and District Co-operative Limited. She became disabled in 1987 as a result of a mental disorder and was unable to work. Ms. Gibbs used up her sick leave, and then was paid benefits under an insurance policy that was part of the benefit package provided to employees pursuant to their collective agreement.
Under the terms of the policy, any employee who became unable to work was provided with replacement income for as long as the disability prevented the employee from working or until age 65. However, if the disability in question was a mental disability, the...
Gibbs v. Battlefords and Dist. Co-operative Ltd. (1996), 27 C.H.R.R. D/87 (S.C.C.)
Compliance with Act Does Not Preclude Human Rights Subscriptions Violation
This is an appeal by Judith Anne Ryan from a decision of the Court of Queen's Bench. The Court of Queen's Bench overturned a decision of a Board of Inquiry which ruled that Ms. Ryan was discriminated against because of her disability because the premises of the Collections Fine Art Gallery were not accessible to persons using wheelchairs.
Ms. Ryan filed a complaint in 1991 when she learned that renovations were being made to the Collections Fine Art Gallery but there were apparently no plans to make it accessible. The renovations had the effect of joining together two structures, to make a gallery and cafe complex which allowed customers to move from one to the other indoors.
The renovations were completed in compliance with the Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act and with permits issued by the City of Regina, but the building was not made accessible.
The Board of Inquiry found that the fact that the renovations complied with the...
Ripplinger v. Ryan (1996), 24 C.H.R.R. D/435 (Sask. C.A.)
Tribunal Awards Over $1 Million in Moral and Punitive Damages
English: The Human Rights Commission has brought a claim against Mr. Coutu and companies under his control seeking $2,060,000 in moral and exemplary damages resulting from the exploitation and violation of the rights of residents of the Centre d'accueil Pavillon Saint-Théophile which occurred between January 1, 1984, and March 31, 1988.
Over a period of many years, until March 31, 1988, Pavillon Saint-Théophile administered a private nursing home with a permit issued by the health and Social Services Department of Quebec. The permit in question authorized Pavillon Saint-Théophile to operate a nursing home with eighty-eight residents. The residents were all handicapped and social welfare recipients.
In 1985 complaints were made regarding the operations and services being offered at Pavillon Saint-Théophile. In 1986 the Comité provincial des malades also lodged a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission regarding (1) the use of the...
Québec (Comm. des droits de la personne) c. Coutu (No 2) (1995), 26 C.H.R.R. D/31 (T.D.P.Q.)
Soldier First Policy for Armed Forces Upheld by Federal Court of Appeal
This is an appeal by the Attorney General of Canada from a decision of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which ruled that James Robinson was discriminated against by the Canadian Armed Forces when he was diagnosed as having "complex partial epilepsy." Because of his disability, the Tribunal found that he was refused continued employment as a Flight Engineer, not given the opportunity to transfer to another trade, and denied the position of Alcohol Counselor. The Tribunal also found that being "seizure-free" was not a bona fide occupational qualification for positions other than Flight Engineer for which Mr. Robinson was qualified.
Dealing with the preliminary issue, the Court finds that though the Tribunal dealt with matters not specifically set out in the complaint form, this does not amount to exceeding its jurisdiction. No evidence of prejudice flowing from consideration of these additional matters was adduced. The Court is satisfied that the issues were...
Canada (Attorney General) v. Robinson (1994), 21 C.H.R.R. D/113 (F.C.A.)
Flu Not a Disability
The Board of Inquiry dismisses the complaint of Darlene Ouimette who alleged that she was discriminated against because of a disability. Ms. Ouimette's employment was terminated because she was absent from work for three days.
Ms. Ouimette was hired on a probationary basis in February 1986 as a Packer for the Plastics Department of Lily Cups Ltd. in Scarborough. If she had successfully completed the 60-day probationary period, Ms. Ouimette would have become a member of the union protected by the current collective agreement. However, Ms. Ouimette was absent for three days during her first 29 working days and she was fired on March 25, 1986. The company's policy was to terminate the employment of any employee who was absent for three days during the probationary period.
Ms. Ouimette testified that on March 2 she was absent because of an asthmatic reaction to aspirin. On March 23 and 24 Ms. Ouimette was absent because she had the flu.
Ms. Ouimette suffers...
Ouimette v. Lily Cups Ltd. (1990), 12 C.H.R.R. D/19 (Ont. Bd.Inq.)