Human Rights Commission (Ont.) v. A et al., (2002) 294 N.R. 140 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 14, 2002
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2002), 294 N.R. 140 (SCC);2002 SCC 66

HRC v. A (2002), 294 N.R. 140 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

....................

Temp. Cite: [2002] N.R. TBEd. OC.046

Mr. B, Mr. C and D Ltd. (appellants) v. Mr. A and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (respondents)

(28383; 2002 SCC 66; 2002 CSC 66)

Indexed As: Human Rights Commission (Ont.) v. A et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.

October 31, 2002.

Summary:

A was employed by a company owned by his brothers-in-law, B and C. A's wife (i.e., B and C's sister) and daughter accused B of sexually assaulting the daughter many years earlier. B fired A. A filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of family and marital status. A Board of Inquiry held that A was discriminated against on the basis of family and marital status. B, C and the company appealed.

The Ontario Divisional Court allowed the appeal, holding that since the conduct was not directed against the father as a member of an enumerated protected group, it was not discriminatory. The Commission appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a decision reported at 139 O.A.C. 13, allowed the ap­peal, holding that A was discriminated against on the basis of marital and family status contrary to s. 5(1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The court remitted the matter to the Board of Inquiry to determine the appropriate remedy. B, C and the com­pany appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal.

Civil Rights - Topic 918

Discrimination - Family status - What constitutes "family status" - Section 5(1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibited discrimination with respect to employment on the basis of, inter alia, marital status and family status - "Marital status" or "family status" were defined in s. 10(1) of the Code - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the terms "marital status" and "family status" were broad enough to encompass discrimination claims based on the particular identity of a complainant's child or spouse - This interpretation was supported by the wording of the Code, the principles of interpretation applicable to human rights statutes and the weight of existing discrimination jurisprudence - The word "status" encompassed both "absolute status" and "relative status" - The proper inquiry was not whether a complainant belonged to an identifiable group but whether he was arbitrarily disadvantaged on the basis of his marital or family status - See paragraphs 1 to 4 and 36 to 57.

Civil Rights - Topic 921

Discrimination - Marital status - General - [See Civil Rights - Topic 918 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 983

Discrimination - Employment - What constitutes discrimination - A was employed by a company owned by his brothers-in-law, B and C - A's wife and daughter accused B of sexually assaulting the daughter many years earlier - A said nothing about the allegations and "com­partmentalized" his personal and employ­ment situations - B fired A - A filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of family and marital status - The Supreme Court of Canada accepted the Board of Inquiry's conclusion that A was dismissed because of his wife's and daugh­ter's accusation of sexual abuse against B -The court affirmed that A was discrimi­nated against based on marital and family status contrary to s. 5(1) of the Human Rights Code - B's automatic attribution of A's wife's and daughter's behaviour to A reflected stereotypical assumptions about A that had nothing to do with his individual merits or capabilities - See paragraphs 58 to 62.

Civil Rights - Topic 988

Discrimination - Employment - On basis of family, civil or marital status - [See Civil Rights - Topic 918 and Civil Rights - Topic 983 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 7003

Federal or provincial legislation - General -Interpretation of human rights legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "this Court has repeatedly reiterated the view that human rights legislation has a unique quasi-constitutional nature and ought to be interpreted in a liberal and purposive manner in order to advance the broad policy considerations underlying it" -See paragraph 44.

Cases Noticed:

Brossard (Town) v. Commission des Droits de la personne du Quebec and Laurin, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 279; 88 N.R. 321; 18 Q.A.C. 164, consd. [para. 13].

Cashin v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. et al., [1988] 3 F.C. 494; 86 N.R. 24 (F.C.A.), consd. [para. 21].

Janzen and Govereau v. Pharos Restaurant and Grammas et al., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1252; 95 N.R. 81; 58 Man.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 30].

Human Rights Commission (Ont.) and O'Malley v. Simpson-Sears, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 536; 64 N.R. 161; 12 O.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 44].

Gould v. Yukon Order of Pioneers, Daw­son Lodge No. 1 et al., [1996] 1 S.C.R. 571; 194 N.R. 81; 72 B.C.A.C. 1; 119 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 44].

University of British Columbia v. Berg, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 353; 152 N.R. 99; 26 B.C.A.C. 241; 44 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 44].

Brennan v. Canada and Robichaud, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 84; 75 N.R. 303, refd to. [para. 44].

Insurance Corp. of British Columbia v. Heerspink and Director, Human Rights Code, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 145; 43 N.R. 168, refd to. [para. 44].

Gallagher v. Hamilton-Wentworth (Regional Municipality) (1996), 28 C.H.R.R. D/81 (Ont. Bd. Inquiry), refd to. [para. 52].

Le Blanc v. Canada Post Corp. (1992), 18 C.H.R.R. D/57 (Can. Trib.), refd to. [para. 52].

Gagnon v. Canadian Armed Forces, [2002] C.H.R.D. No. 4 (Can. Trib.), refd to. [para. 52].

MacMillan v. 141187 Ventures Ltd., [1994] B.C.C.H.R.D. No. 8 (B.C.C.H.R.), refd to. [para. 52].

Bailey v. Fogo Island Co-operative Society Ltd. (2001), 40 C.H.R.R. D/77 (Nfld. Bd. Inquiry), refd to. [para. 52].

Dewetter v. Northland Security Guard Services Ltd. (1996), 29 C.H.R.R. D/8 (B.C.C.H.R.), refd to. [para. 52].

Gipaya v. Anton's Pasta Ltd. (1996), 27 C.H.R.R. D/326 (B.C.C.H.R.), refd to. [para. 52].

J. v. London Life Insurance Co. (1999), 36 C.H.R.R. D/43 (B.C. Trib.), refd to. [para. 52].

Allum v. Hollyburn Properties Manage­ment Inc. (1991), 15 C.H.R.R. D/171 (B.C. Trib.), refd to. [para. 52].

Price v. British Columbia (Ministry of Social Services and Housing) (1991), 15 C.H.R.R. D/11 (B.C.C.H.R.), refd to. [para. 52].

Commission des droits de la personne du Québec v. Les Immeubles NI/Dia Inc., [1992] R.J.Q. 2977 (T.D.P.), refd to. [para. 52].

Law v. Minister of Employment and Im­migration, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497; 236 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 55].

Statutes Noticed:

Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H-19, sect. 5(1), sect. 10(1) [para. 10].

Counsel:

Edward A. Canning and Sean T. Jackson, for the appellants;

Naomi Overend and Joanne Rosen, for the respondent, the Ontario Human Rights Commission;

No one appeared for the respondent, Mr. A.

Solicitors of Record:

Ross & McBride, Hamilton, Ontario, for the appellants;

Ontario Human Rights Commission, Toronto, Ontario, on their own behalf.

This appeal was heard on May 14, 2002, by McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages on October 31, 2002, and the following opinions were filed:

McLachlin, C.J.C., and Gonthier, J. - see paragraph 1;

Iacobucci and Bastarache, JJ. (L'Heureux-Dubé, Major, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 2 to 62.

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