The Lynch List, 29-Sep-2010

September 29, 2010

Now that the HRTs have reserved the right to appoint university deans, I’m awaiting the inevitable order that the BCHRT has replaced me as writer of this blog with someone I’ve offended…

First: Universities beware: the Human Rights Tribunals have authority to appoint your faculty deans. When Emily Carasco, Professor of Victimology at the University of Windsor, asked the Tribunal to delay the appointment of a new Law dean while her complaint is being heard, the Tribunal denied her request but made it clear that it could make appointments – or revoke them – in the future if they saw fit.

Second: Insult a police officer, and you’ll probably only get the book thrown at you. Insult a black police officer, and you have to pay $8,000 on top of getting the book thrown at you. Inequality in the name of equality, right? But even more interesting, the police officer filed the complaint as a private citizen. So here you have a private citizen taking another private citizen to the Tribunal over an alleged racial slur, and pocketing $8,000. Let’s also take note how the Tribunal labeled the damage award (emphasis mine):

The court ordered the moral damages of $7,500 to be split between McCluskey and his former employer, the towing company. A further $2,000 charge to McCluskey for punitive damages was lowered to $500, and the tribunal advised Remorquage Sud-Ouest to begin anti-discrimination training in the workplace.

Strange, I’ve been called crazy when I said that the Commissions and Tribunals are a morality police who hand out punitive punishments.

Third: Three female employees who refused relocation orders from their employer, CN Rail, for family reasons have been awarded $15,000 for the pain and anguish of losing their jobs.


The Lynch List, 27-Sep-2010

September 27, 2010

First: An employee at Brentwood College, a private boarding school in BC, is filing a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal over some insults she received from her boss. The complainant, in her own words, gets to the root of what the Human Rights system was created to do:

Can anyone call me any awful name they want and get away with it?

Okay, so how did the school deal with the situation?

Nelson was suspended for four-and-a-half weeks with a week’s holiday during the school’s investigation into the incident. The school administration also held an hour and 15 minute mediation session on Sept. 16 with the co-workers present at the incident, but it achieved little, said Baker.

Nelson returned to work Wednesday

Nelson wrote a hand-written letter of apology to Baker.

Not good enough, says the complainant, who won’t rest until the employee that insulted her is fired. Remember, HRTs are supposed to be remedial. Really.

Second: Hmm, a lawyer wants the Tribunal to unilaterally declare everyone within the legal profession as racists. Oh, and all lawyers hate disabled people, too. The Tribunal said so.

Third: Pete McMartin on the waitress who feels she has the human right to wear whatever she wants:

Now, the first clue for Bil that the Shark Club may not have been the right fit for her employment-wise, if she was dress-code sensitive, would be the fact that it was named the “Shark Club” and not “Mom’s Family Diner.” It would be for that very same reason you do not find many professors of feminist studies working at Hooters, unless they are on sabbatical.

Even more oddly, she did not take issue with the fact that she was hired in the first place precisely because she was young, attractive and female. That is, once she was in the door, she took issue with one kind of discrimination, as she saw it, but had no problem with taking advantage of or was blind to another, and to me worse, kind of discrimination in the service industry that got her in the door in the first place — the kind that discriminates in favour of beauty.

Sometimes, the real issue, and the greater injustice, is as plain as the look on your face.

Bil should look in the mirror.

Fourth: The federal government has dropped its appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal concerning the Tribunal order that found the government discriminated against nurses who determine CPP eligibility. This is an interesting case, because the Tribunal has forbidden the discrimination against among classes that are unprotected (nurses vs doctors) simply by virtue of there being more women than men in one class. This sets a precedent that can be used by Tribunals to expand the definitions of “protected groups” indefinitely.

Fifth: Nice to see that Walker Morrow is still keeping an eye on the Commissions…

The Lynch List, 22-Sep-2010

September 22, 2010

Not much on the Human Rights Commissions this week, so this will be a short one:

First: A Yellowknife landlord has been slapped with a $13,400 fine for refusing to rent an apartment to a gay couple. While the complainants were certainly within their rights to seek damages for the landlord withholding the damage deposit, the Tribunal decided to delve into and rule on the landlord’s religious beliefs.

But in his decision, Posynick said the right to religious freedom “is not unlimited” and Goertzen cannot justify evicting the couple on the basis that he was “following God’s word.”

“Mr. Goertzen made his own choices,” Posynick wrote. “I heard no evidence that God’s word included ignoring his legal obligations to treat other people — even people with different beliefs and different lifestyle choices than his own — with respect.”

What’s more, the Tribunal demolished the feeble argument that the Tribunals were intended to be remedial, and not punitive:

Posynick ordered Goertzen to pay $6,500 each to Robertson and Anthony, $5,000 of which compensates for injury to the men’s “dignity, feelings and self-respect.” The remaining $1,500 are punitive damages.

Second: Ian Haysom of the Victoria Times-Colonist believes that the BC Human Rights Tribunal is an appropriate venue to force male customers to “stop treating women as sex objects”. Along those lines, we could even rename the Tribunal as the “Department of Vice and Virtue”!

Third: Scaramouche informs us that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal now believes that alcoholics and addicts are “protected groups”. At least there’s somewhere that a straight white Christian male can go to get “protected” status without renouncing his religion or getting a sex change – the bottle!

The Lynch List, 16-Sep-2010

September 16, 2010

First: Can workplaces set dress codes for reasons other than personnel safety? I’m sure you’ve heard by now of the complaint against the Richmond Shark Club in which a bartender alleges she was told to dress provocatively. My first impression is that one’s appearance is a bona fide job requirement for many service jobs, and the type of dress is a part of that. If that means that some people of certain “body types” are unable to find employment in these fields, how is that discriminatory? I don’t have the “body type” to be a runway model, can I lodge a complaint?

Second: BCF delves into the failed complaint against Free Dominion, noting that the CHRC seems to have things backwards (squeamish alert – don’t scroll down).  Distributing a flyer that shows a picture of a Christian girl decapitated by Muslim fanatics may be a hate crime – against Muslims. Funny how that works.

Third: A Christian street ministry is taking the City of Calgary to the Alberta Human Rights Commission for refusing requests to hold a flag raising ceremony at City Hall. You can’t use the devil’s tools for the work of Christ…

Fourth: The BCHRT loves their he-said she-said soap operas. Two co-workers (one male and one female) get drunk at the end of a Friday workday, exchange an intoxicated conversation that neither could fully remember. The male participant concluded that she made some advances at him, they have several exchanges, once in a compromising location, about the substance of the drunken conversation, and whether she was really drunk.

The owner of the company reprimanded the male worker for harassment twice, and subsequently laid off the woman who was hired as short-term employment. The BCHRT nevertheless ruled that the woman had been let go because of the allegations of harassment, and awarded her $8000.

The moral of the lesson? Don’t hire a 21-year old girl to work in a steel fabrication shop.

Fifth: The fork-and-spoon case in Montreal is going to appeal. Thank goodness.

Sixth: Try to evict someone who owes $1,355 in outstanding rent? Ho-hum. Try to evict a transsexual who owes $1,355 in outstanding rent? Human rights violation!

Seventh: The courts deliver another smackdown to the Human Rights Tribunal! Remember that disabled University of Victoria “student” that refused to move out of his apartment for many years after ceasing to become a student, complaining to the Human Rights Tribunal when they tried to evict him? Well, the BC Supreme Court has ordered the immediate repossession of the suite and fined Gerd’son over $10,000 for overholding charges.

The Lynch List, 14-Sep-2010

September 14, 2010

First: Heather McNoughton, outgoing chair of the BC Human Rights Tribunal, prepared an advisory paper for the Yukon territorial government. Its object was to assist the government make a decision on whether to streamline its human rights system and put in place a direct-access Tribunal. In her essay, McNoughton roundly criticizes the BC government for reforming its human rights system for “ideological reasons”.

But more importantly, McNoughton advises on how to shield Tribunal decisions from the real courts: the introduction of a Privative Clause in the Code:

Decisions of the B.C. Tribunal are not appealable but are subject to “judicial review”. Judicial review is narrower than a right of appeal and focuses on whether the Tribunal has exceeded its jurisdiction. The standard of review applied by the B.C. Courts is set by statute and because there is no privative clause in the Code, the scope of the review tends to be broader than it is for those tribunal’s whose decisions are protected by a privative clause. In Ontario, the Tribunal’s decisions are protected by a privative clause.

A privative clause provides greater certainty and finality to Tribunal decision making.

Second: Has Syed Soharwardy seen the light?

At the time, Soharwardy argued the cartoons were a form of hate speech.

However, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada has been through a lot since then. You might say he’s had a change of heart about hate.

“My view of the human rights commission has changed almost 180 degrees,” he told Canwest News Service. “Especially about this Section 13, the freedom of speech.”

Um, nope: (emphasis mine)

He says he hopes his planned Freedom of Speech Centre can help Muslims and all Canadians explore ways to balance hate speech and free speech.

Third: Whatever happened to our human right to be free from smelling other people’s body odor? That right doesn’t exist anymore, thanks to Ontario’s new policy on scent-free workplaces. Neither does your freedom to wear whatever scented products you desire; the rights of anyone with “environmental sensitivities” trumps your own, always and everywhere.

Fourth: From McLean’s On Campus Blog, Should HRCs pick your faculty dean?

Humans Rights Commissions in Canada are the provincial and Federal bodies that will bring a comedian to court for making disparaging comments to a heckler, ensure your human right to breastfeed while in a public pool, and enforce your right to counsel rape victims at a women’s shelter, even against their vulnerable objections. Now the Human Rights Commission of Ontario has been asked to guarantee Emily Carasco’s human right (?) to a five-year term as dean of law at the University of Windsor.

Fifth: Your beer just got a whole lot more expensive:

Tyszka had hoped to obtain a back-to-work order that would have seen Sleeman accommodate his disability, but he said his settlement wouldn’t see him returning to work at the company.

“I feel great that it is over,” he said. “What I got, fit . . .”

Sixth: Anyone who believes that the Christian Horizons case was a victory for the faith-based group hasn’t fully comprehended the ramifications of the decision. In short, the Tribunal wanted to eradicate any semblance of Christian character in the organization. The courts, on appeal, only narrowed the eradication to the belief that homosexuality is against Christian teachings. So instead of abolishing belief in charitable workplaces, the government is dictating it. Sooo much better.

Seventh: Alberta thinks it can fix its Orwellian Human Rights system by reforming it. Gullibility lives on

“We had to change the governance of how it’s run,” Blackett said. “It has to be objective. It’s a quasi-judicial body that has to be run like one.”

The Lynch List, 10-Sep-2010

September 10, 2010

First: Richard Moon is in the Human Rights news again, but this time at the receiving end. A candidate for the dean of law at the University of Windsor is naming Moon in a human rights complaint. The complainant alleges she was denied the position due to racism and sexism. By her comments, she appears to be a professional grievance-monger. The fact that she ran for the federal NDP party doesn’t exactly dispel that notion.

She claims the school found her “threatening” because of her intentions to “do more than pay lip service to equity” by addressing the “distinct contrast” between the diverse student population and the “white male leadership.”

Her complaint includes a list of all Windsor Law deans back to 1967, of which she says only one was not a white man and she left the post early.

“The University and Faculty of Law leadership remain in the hands of white males,” Prof. Carasco claims, creating a “culture of privilege which white men expect to have continue, and will defend with impunity.”

What does she want? The dean’s position, $60,000 from the school, and $15,000 directly from Moon. I bet Moon is wishing he could have a do-over on his CHRC report and insert a few more recommendations…

Second: We sincerely all wish Jennifer Lynch a complete and speedy recovery if the rumors are true that she has been diagnosed with cancer.

Besides, she needs to be in the best of health when she gets unceremoniously fired.

Third: Our neighbors to the south are cringing at how our Human Rights system stifles free speech:

In the U.S., we are fortunate enough to harbor a healthy aversion to restrictions on free speech and the bullying of public figures we disagree with.

Our neighbors to the north are not so lucky.

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977, it is illegal to distribute by phone or Internet information “that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.” Enforcement is accomplished through trials by the Human Rights Tribunal — in which hearsay is accepted as evidence, truth is not a defense and plaintiffs are given the power of investigators and access to Commission files.

The Commission has the power to issue gag orders and in the past forced defendants to apologize for statements they still agreed with. The attitude of the Tribunal can be summed up by investigator Dean Steacy, who stated during a recent case, “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

The Lynch List, 07-Sep-2010

September 7, 2010

Now that labour day is done, it’s time to get back to work…

First: The various courts kept this one alive for 19 years, until the Human Rights system became activist enough to be favorable towards the complainant: Albertan wins $650,000 in 19-year lawsuit.

Note that she was seeking $4-million in damages. No digging for gold, nope.

Second: This one is an old one, but I stumbled across it when researching similar cases. An autistic complainant gives the Tribunal a taste of how “reasonable accommodation” can be defined at will:

At the outset, it must be noted that the Complainant, in her final submissions as well as throughout the hearing, was very critical about how the Tribunal dealt with her requests for accommodation during the hearing. The Complainant was of the view that the Tribunal was more inclined to accommodate non-autistic people’s needs than her own needs. For example, Ms. Dawson stated repeatedly at the beginning of the hearing that the hearing was not accessible to autistic people like her. She furthermore stated that she was not provided with the information she needed, nor was she provided with the answers she needed. She further asserted that the kind of schedule imposed on her, i.e. long lunch hours, long hours, did not meet her needs, that what she needed was a very fast concentrated day with short breaks, no lunch.

Third: Exporting the Human Rights Racket: Obama is withholding millions of dollars in aid to Mexico amidst demands that it give more power to its Human Rights Commission.

Fourth: Poverty groups are getting worried about the human rights system in Canada. That’s encouraging to hear.