The Lynch List, 23-Mar-2011

First: It has now been confirmed by Quebec’s Court of Appeal that a police officer can still be found guilty of racial profiling even if the complainant was found guilty of the offence which led to the contact with police. This is an important precedent, since most racial profiling cases (to my knowledge) have dealt with charges and/or citations that were dismissed, or for which the complainant was found not guilty.

The danger of this precedent is that matters that have already been decided by the courts can now be re-opened and judged again by a human rights tribunal, only this time in reverse: to determine if the successful prosecution was actually a form of racial profiling or other “human rights” violation. Not only does this place the Tribunal in a position in which offenses committed by designated groups can be reviewed by non-judges, it also places police officers in a dangerous position; even if it is clear that a crime is being committed, they must second-guess themselves to make sure they are not acting on subconscious racial impulses, before acting to protect the public.

Second: The stage is set for a ridiculous complaint over the benefits of a soldier who died for his country; is there a faster way to tarnish the memory of a fallen soldier?

The complaint centers around a supplemental death benefit that is paid out to the soldier’s spouse – if he has one. That amounts to discrimination on family status, says the parents of deceased corporal Matthew Dinning, who was single. The parents claim that they have “suffered” as much as a spouse would have in the same situation, and therefore are entitled to the money.

If the cash was intended to offset pain and suffering, they might have a case. But it’s intended to support dependents who are left behind in the tragic death of a soldier. At any rate, we don’t consider it discrimination that those with larger families gain more benefits through their employers at no extra cost, do we?

Third: Okay, you’ve got to have a downright farcical case if even the OHRC won’t consider you for a disability complaint. Note how the reporter refers to the OHRC:

Carter complained to the Human Rights Tribunal in Ontario, perhaps Canada’s most employee-friendly administrative body. However, instead of finding that Carter was fired for his disability, the tribunal found that he did not even have one.

Fourth: A case we have talked about before has recently finished its Tribunal hearing. Imagine, that you are told by a superior at work that you “eat like a pig”. Oh, the horror! I guess there is a human right to be free from animal metaphors.

The Quebec HRC recommended to the company that $164,000 would make this complaint simply disappear. The company, thankfully, hasn’t caved. yet.

Fifth: A great letter-to-the-editor in response to the flailing attempts to justify Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Tribunal:

The writers reject having unresolved cases heard by the Court of Queen’s Bench instead of a human rights tribunal, because judges lack the expertise of tribunal members.

These same judges are daily asked to untangle complex criminal and civil cases or to interpret the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but apparently aren’t clever enough to understand our Human Rights Code.

Perhaps the writers meant that judges might not be reliable when it comes to disregarding the rights of respondents.

Accessibility is another problem: Judges wear robes and sit in woodpanelled courtrooms -intimidating to complainants. This is a preposterous remark. Do tribunal members wear jeans and hear cases in warehouses?

Sixth: This is not a human rights case, but it opens up a whole new avenue for complaints. An Ontario court has ruled that employees dismissed for just cause, but not for “wilful misconduct, disobedience, or wilful neglect of duty”, are still entitled to severance pay. This precedent will open up employers to complaints every time a person is fired for just cause and not given severance; even worse, those who are a member of a “vulnerable group” can get even more favorable treatment at a Human Rights Tribunal should they be in this situation. We’ll be watching this one to see if it crops up in the OHRT.

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