Saint Mary's University et al. v. Human Rights Commission (N.S.) et al., (2015) 355 N.S.R.(2d) 255 (SC)

Judge:Chipman, J.
Court:Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
Case Date:February 03, 2015
Jurisdiction:Nova Scotia
Citations:(2015), 355 N.S.R.(2d) 255 (SC);2015 NSSC 32
 
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Saint Mary's Univ. v. HRC (2015), 355 N.S.R.(2d) 255 (SC);

    1123 A.P.R. 255

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Temp. Cite: [2015] N.S.R.(2d) TBEd. FE.006

Saint Mary's University, Dr. Russel Summers and Dr. Patricia Bradshaw (applicants) v. Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Radha Koilpillai and Saint Mary's University Faculty Union (respondents)

(Hfx. No. 431032; 2015 NSSC 32)

Indexed As: Saint Mary's University et al. v. Human Rights Commission (N.S.) et al.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Chipman, J.

February 3, 2015.

Summary:

A part-time university professor unsuccessfully applied for a full-time position. The professor, who was a female of East Indian origin, filed a discrimination complaint against the university and others. A Human Rights Commission investigator recommended that the complaint against the university proceed to an inquiry, but be dismissed against all others. The Commission, exercising its administrative gate-keeping function, referred the complaint against the university to an inquiry. The university sought judicial review, submitting that the referral was unreasonable, as it was based on a flawed investigator's report.

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court, applying the reasonableness standard of review, dismissed the application.

Administrative Law - Topic 9102

Boards and tribunals - Judicial review - Standard of review - [See Civil Rights - Topic 7069.02 ].

Administrative Law - Topic 9118

Boards and tribunals - Judicial review - Curial deference to decisions of tribunals - [See Civil Rights - Topic 7069.02 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 7069.02

Federal, provincial or territorial legislation - Commissions or boards - Jurisdiction - Complaints - Decision to request board of inquiry - A part-time university professor unsuccessfully applied for a full-time position - The professor, who was a female of East Indian origin, filed a discrimination complaint against the university and others - A Human Rights Commission investigator recommended that the complaint against the university proceed to an inquiry, but be dismissed against all others - The Commission, exercising its administrative gate-keeping function, referred the complaint against the university to an inquiry - The Commission gave no reasons for the decision, as it was not required to do so - The university sought judicial review, submitting that the referral was unreasonable, as it was based on a flawed investigator's report - The Nova Scotia Supreme Court, applying the reasonableness standard of review, dismissed the application - The court, in reviewing the Commission's decision, was subject to a highly deferential standard of review - There was no "merit threshold" - There was no decision on the merits - The university failed to establish that there was no reasonable basis on the law or the evidence for the complaint to be referred to an inquiry - The court was not to assess the merits of the complaint - The Commission conducted a thorough investigation - There was no evidence that the investigation was inaccurate or disregarded or overlooked evidence - Even if the investigator's report was fundamentally flawed (which the court found it was not), that did not make the referral unreasonable, as the Commission was not bound by the report and had before it the submissions of all parties.

Civil Rights - Topic 7115

Federal, provincial or territorial legislation - Judicial review (incl. standard of review) - [See Civil Rights - Topic 7069.02 ].

Cases Noticed:

Tri-County Regional School Board v. Human Rights Commission (N.S.) et al. (2015), 354 N.S.R.(2d) 289; 1120 A.P.R. 289; 2015 NSCA 2, refd to. [para. 29].

New Brunswick (Board of Management) v. Dunsmuir, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 190; 372 N.R. 1; 329 N.B.R.(2d) 1; 844 A.P.R. 1, refd to. [para. 30].

Halifax (Regional Municipality) v. Human Rights Commission (N.S.) et al., [2012] 1 S.C.R. 364; 428 N.R. 107; 316 N.S.R.(2d) 1; 1002 A.P.R. 1; 2012 SCC 10, refd to. [para. 31].

New Brunswick v. Human Rights Commission (N.B.) (2010), 360 N.B.R.(2d) 283; 930 A.P.R. 283; 2010 NBCA 40, refd to. [para. 42].

Canada Post Corp. v. Barrette, [2000] 4 F.C. 145; 254 N.R. 38 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 43].

Cooper v. Canadian Human Rights Commission, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 854; 204 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 44].

Green v. Human Rights Commission (N.S.) et al. (2010), 292 N.S.R.(2d) 246; 925 A.P.R. 246; 2010 NSSC 242, refd to. [para. 45].

Cape Breton (Regional Municipality) v. Human Rights Commission (N.S.) et al. (2013), 331 N.S.R.(2d) 351; 1051 A.P.R. 351; 2013 NSSC 193, refd to. [para. 48].

Counsel:

Tara Erskine and Jeff Mitchell, articled clerk, for the applicants;

R. Lester Jesudason, Q.C., and Kristen Pike, articled clerk, for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission;

Ann E. Smith, Q.C., for Radha Koilpillai;

Gordon Forsyth, Q.C., for Saint Mary's University Faculty Union.

This application was heard on December 15 and 17, 2014, at Halifax, N.S., before Chipman, J, of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, who delivered the following judgment on February 3, 2015.

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