Court of appeal rules in Walsh case: a 17-year journey.

AuthorMcKay-Panos, Linda
PositionDiscrimination based on gender under the equal pay

People often cite the length of time it takes to resolve human rights complaints as a deterrent to making such complaints. Delorie Walsh's case may be cited as an extreme example. And, if the respondents appeal the current decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, the case might not be over yet.

The facts of the case are summarized in paragraphs 2 through 31 of the Alberta Court of Appeal Decision (Walsh v. Mobil Oil Canada, 2008 ABCA 268 http:// www2.albertacourts.a civil/2008/2008abca0268.pdf): Delorie Walsh was hired by Canadian Superior Oil (which later merged with Mobil Oil) in 1984 as a junior map clerk. Having a B.Sc. in Agriculture, Ms. Walsh wished to be a land agent. At that time, there had never been a female land agent working for the company. Walsh pursued her interest in becoming a land agent and obtained a licence. She also moved into a clerical position in the land department and later became a land representative. Walsh received good performance appraisals, yet encountered a number of obstacles in becoming a land representative in the field. These barriers related to her being a woman in a field dominated by men. Although Walsh's responsibilities increased significantly, her designation and pay scale did not increase with her responsibilities.

In December 1990, Walsh was offered a field position in the town of Olds, subject to a three-month probation period. She was required to commute on her own time, using her own vehicle and did not receive any salary change. Other male land agents were not required to undergo probation, nor were they required to commute using their own vehicles. When Walsh expressed her concerns about these differences to her supervisors, their responses led her to conclude that if she did not accept the offer with the different conditions, her continued employment at Mobil would be jeopardized. Eventually, Walsh was assigned a company vehicle to commute to Olds and was transferred to the Olds office.

In August 1991, Walsh filed a human rights complaint with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission ("Commission") against Mobil, alleging discrimination based on gender under the equal pay for equal work provision (now s. 6 of the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. H-14 ("HRCMA"). She alleged that, despite her abilities, she had been prevented from advancing. Regardless of the degree of responsibility she was given relative to men doing similar...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT