Welcome to Rights Angle, the ACLRC blog. Here, ACLRC's lawyers and educators seek to provide insight on the human rights and civil liberties issues that are important to Albertans today.
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While it has always been legally possible for an employer to be ordered to reinstate an employee after there has been a finding of discrimination, recent tribunals and courts have been reluctant to award this remedy. However, the Pratt case may open the doors again to this possibility in some circumstances.
Recently, Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford passed a new policy that Ontario universities should adopt free-speech policies, or face receiving less money from the Government. The policies must meet “a minimum standard prescribed by government.”
The right to express our opinions is a crucial element of a democracy. Freedom of expression is a basic characteristic of personal development. It gives us the right to dissent and the right to be heard. We can make our own choices about our basic beliefs by being exposed to different thoughts and opinions (see: Fundamental Freedoms: Freedom of Expression). Freedom of expression has been recognized as essential in international and national laws.
Case Commented On: United Nurses of Alberta v Alberta Health Services, 2019 ABQB 255(CanLII)
As noted in previous posts (see here), the definition of discrimination on the basis of family status has been extended recently to include recognition of childcare responsibilities (see e.g. Canada (Attorney General) v Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110 (CanLII), SMS Equipment v Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union,2015 ABQB 162 (CanLII), both cases discussed below). However, the point at which employers’ duty to accommodate is triggered remains controversial. In particular, the question remains as to how a complainant’s duty of self-accommodation should be dealt with in the discrimination analysis.
Recently, extradition has been front and centre in our news cycle (see: CBC, January 22, 2019 “China accuses U.S., Canada of abusing extradition in Huawei case”). There are very important human rights aspects to the process of extradition. These are critical to our democracy and the rule of law. For example, if another nation involved in the extradition seeks to punish or otherwise persuade Canada by imprisoning Canadians, this is not respectful of the rule of law and cannot affect how we perform the extradition process.
Employee alcohol and drug addictions in the workplace can be very difficult issues for employers to manage. Addiction is recognized as a mental disability, which means that employers cannot automatically terminate employees because of their addiction. On the contrary, employers are required to accommodate those employees to the point of undue hardship.
Recently, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government introduced Bill 21 (An Act Respecting the Laicity [Secularism] of the State). Among other things, the Act prohibits public workers in positions of authority (e.g., teachers, police officers, prison guards, Crown prosecutors, government lawyers and judges) from wearing religious symbols (not defined in the Act, but presumably would include turbans, kippahs, crucifixes, hijabs, clerical collars, etc.).
The practice of forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada was supposed to have ended in the early 1970s. However, until today, we still read about Indigenous women who were sterilized against their consent in recent years.
The right to be protected from persecution is an international human right. Under Canada’s immigration laws, a person in Canada can claim status as a Convention Refugee or as a Person in Need of Protection.
Requesting medical information from employees may raise privacy issues. Employees have the right to keep their medical information confidential and private. But employers also have the right to know about their employees’ illness or disability, and have the right to seek medical information in order to provide appropriate accommodation. So, how can we balance the two?
Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about human rights law and civil liberties. Legal information is not the same as legal advice as to the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. We cannot offer legal advice in response to specific problems. We strongly recommend that you consult a lawyer if you need such help.