British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal

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The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal is a quasi-judicial human rights body in British Columbia, Canada. It was established under the British Columbia Human Rights Code. It is responsible for "accepting, screening, mediating and adjudicating human rights complaints."[1]

Responsibility for the province's Human Rights Code was originally divided between the BC Human Rights Commission, which was responsible for investigation and compliance, and the Tribunal which was solely an adjudicative body. In 2003, the government of Gordon Campbell abolished the Commission as well as the BC Human Rights Advisory Council as a cost-saving measure while expanding the responsibilities of the Tribunal.[2][3]

Controversial decisions[edit]

Knights of Columbus Hall Rental[edit]

In 2005, a local Knights of Columbus council in Port Coquitlam, BC, was fined $1,000.[4] The Council's Hall Manager signed a contract for the use of their facilities with Tracey Smith and Deborah Chymyshyn but canceled it after they became aware that it was for a same-sex wedding reception.[5] The two women said they were unaware that the facility was affiliated with the Catholic Church. The local council responded that the hall is on the same compound as a parish church and there were Catholic symbols such as a picture of the Pope and a crucifix inside.[6] The tribunal ruled the Council was within its rights to refuse to rent it based on their religious convictions but fined them "for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect" of the women.[4]

Case against McDonald's[edit]

In 2009, McDonald Canada was ordered to pay Beena Datt $50,000 plus interest to compensate her for lost income, dignity and self-respect.[7] Datt was a long-time employee at a Vancouver McDonald's restaurant who eventually acquired a skin condition which made hand washing painful. McDonald's own corporate policy, BC's Health Act and its Food Premises Regulation, along with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, all require or recommend rigorous hygiene policies on the part of food handlers. At McDonald's restaurants all staff members, including the manager, are required to handle food. McDonald's tried to accommodate Datt's desire to stay on the job. It granted her disability leave three times while she consulted doctors and tried various lotions, but after two and on half years of effort, it became clear that she could not follow corporate, provincial or BCCDC hygiene requirements. Datt was dismissed from her job. She then complained to the BCHRT, which decided that McDonald's had not tried hard enough to accommodate her skin condition.

Victoria Businessman Case[edit]

In 2010, a Victoria businessman, Clint Petres, was fined $10,000 for practicing his self-described religious obligation to “dispel negative energy”, by hugging his female employees against their will. The tribunal allowed a witness who refused to properly identify himself to testify.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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