Federal Court Rules Employers Cannot Discriminate Based on Family Obligations

The Federal Court has ruled in a landmark decision that employers cannot discriminate against employees with family obligations. Federal Court Justice Leonard Mandamin wrote, “I find there was evidence before the tribunal supporting its conclusion that Ms. Johnston [the plaintiff] was discriminated against on the basis of her family status,” and the Canadian Border Services’ policy was “based on the arbitrary assumption that the need for accommodation on the basis of family obligations was merely the result of choices that individuals make, rather than legitimate need.” This decision may help thousands of parents who are juggling child-care and work.

Released last week, the ruling upholds a 2010 Canadian Human Rights Tribunals decision. In 2010, the CHRT found that Canadian Border Services discriminated against a former Toronto airport customs inspector when it refused her request for regular hours to accommodate child-care arrangements. Prior to the birth of her son, Johnstone and her husband worked full-time on rotating, irregular shifts at Pearson International Airport. The birth of her baby made it impossible for her to work irregular shifts, yet the only fixed shifts available were part-time.

Canadian Border Services is reviewing the decision and has 30 days to decide whether to appeal. Canadian Border Services argued that while the Canadian Human Rights Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of family status, child-care responsibilities do not trigger a “duty to accommodate.”


For the full article from The Toronto Star:


About ZS

First year law student at the Univeristy of Victoria. Graduated from UBC with a major in International Relations and a minor in English Literature in 2012. The views expressed in the blog are not necessarily those of AdviceScene, nor the writer, nor do they consistute legal advice.

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