Supreme Court of Canada Refuses To Hear Case

first_img The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear the Nova Scotia HumanRights Commission’s appeal of a decision that the commission saidraises questions about harassment and diversity in Canadianworkplaces. “We’re disappointed,” said commission CEO Mayann Francis. “We hadhoped the Supreme Court of Canada would provide legal guidance,not just for Nova Scotians but for all Canadian workplaces. Thestandards have already been established for sexual harassment. Wethought this case might help establish clearer guidelines fordealing with discrimination and the cultural differences onefinds in a diverse workplace.” The Supreme Court announced today, April 28, that it will nothear an appeal in the case of Dorothy Kateri Moore, of Membertou.The court does not give reasons for dismissal of leaveapplications. Ms. Moore filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human RightsCommission in 1999, alleging that Trevor Muller, the owner ofPlay it Again Sports in Sydney, and Ronald Muller, a co-worker,discriminated against her when they referred to her as”kemosabe.” An independent board of inquiry was held into the complaint. Thechair of that board of inquiry, David J. MacDonald, ruled inFebruary of 2004 that discrimination did not take place becauseMs. Moore had not clearly shown she was offended by the remark. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission appealed the ruling tothe Nova Scotia Court of Appeal — arguing that the independentboard had erred by placing an undue burden on the complainant toprove that she found the term offensive. In October 2004, the Court of Appeal rejected that argument,upholding the independent board of inquiry’s decision. JusticeDavid Chipman, writing for the three-member appeal court panel,concluded Ms. Moore had not shown that the term was “notoriouslyoffensive.” Ann E. Smith, legal counsel for the Nova Scotia Human RightsCommission, said the commission had hoped the Supreme Court couldclarify that term. “People need to understand what that phrasemeans in order to determine what is or is not consideredacceptable behaviour in the workplace,” she said. “What Iconsider ‘notoriously offensive’ you may not. We wanted somelegal standard that would help people.” Ms. Smith said the Supreme Court does not give explanations forthe cases it accepts or denies. “The Supreme Court’s refusal tohear the case in no way indicates that the questions we haveraised are not worth pursuing. It simply means the issue is notone the Supreme Court wanted to address at this time.” Ms. Francis said that means that the commission will continue toconsider other ways of clarifying the parameters. “Attitudes regarding diversity — and understanding of thecultural differences in the way that individuals deal withdifficulties — have far-reaching implications for Nova Scotia’sracially visible, African Nova Scotian and First Nationscommunities,” she said. “They will impact future immigrationpatterns and, therefore, the province’s economic future. We needto continue to work on this. “This is about much more than the use of one word. It’s aboutestablishing standards that are clear to employers and toemployees, standards that protect and encourage diversity andthat protect every person’s rights under the Human Rights Act.” Copies of the original decision by the independent board ofinquiry and the ruling of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal areavailable on the commission’s website atgov.ns.ca/humanrights/decisions/2004decisions.htm HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION–Supreme Court of Canada Refuses To HearCaselast_img