The Lynch List, 26-Jul-2010

Aren’t Mondays great?

First: Sarah Dobson takes a look at cost awards in the HRTs:

But if human rights tribunals have the authority to award legal fees to successful complainants,
employers “will be subject to potentially crippling cost awards in addition to other damages which may, in many cases, far exceed the costs of wrongful dismissal and other court actions,” said Weiler. “That may
encourage more complainants to a hearing…”

Sweeping changes to human rights legislation and left-leaning adjudicators directed to interpret remedial
legislation in a broad, inclusive manner should leave employers concerned, according to Daniel Lublin, a
partner at the employment law firm Whitten & Lublin in Toronto.

The rulings are very employee-favourable, he said, citing a case involving hairdresser Jessica Maciel
who was fired after one day of work but was awarded $25,000 for lost wages, benefits and punitive
damages by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal because she was terminated for being pregnant.

“They’re trying to send a message in Ontario by doing jackpot awards,” he said. “There is certainly a
push on the tribunal’s part to make big awards where discrimination is found, as a preventative measure.”

The award had little or no relationship to Maciel’s actual losses, he said, and there’s a bit of
Americanization going on, with crazy and outrageous awards.

“The broad panoply of potential damage awards for human rights violations considerably increases the
scope and unpredictability of human rights litigation before provincial tribunals,” said Lublin in a web post.

Second: BCF found someone who at least flipped through the OHRC annual report: a Toronto Sun reporter, who found a couple cases involving niqabs to be curious.

Third: Opposition parties in Newfoundland want their Human Rights Commission to be an independent arm of their Assembly, rather than reporting to the justice minister. Just what we need – a longer leash for the Commissions.

Fourth: Ezra comments on the “I have a right to be an RCMP officer” case

Fifth: The Public Eye reports that Bernd Walter, formerly of the National Review Board, will chair the BC Human Rights Tribunal for an interim period, six months.

Sixth: University Student Unions are now pretending to be their own Human Rights Commissions, demanding that the police cooperate with an investigation that the Algoma Student Union is launching into the arrest of two of their students.

The police, to their credit, told them to bugger off.

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