CLAS Programs

Community Law Program

We provide legal assistance to people in B.C. with problems in the areas of workers’ rights, income security, housing, mental health and human rights. We offer different kinds of legal services, including: summary legal advice to outline your options and point you in the right direction; assistance to help you represent yourself; and full representation.

Mental Health Law Program

We provide legal advice and representation to people who: have been involuntarily detained pursuant to the BC Mental Health Act; or have custody or conditional discharge disposition orders pursuant to the Mental Disorder Provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. If you have been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act or require representation at a BC Criminal Code Review Board hearing, contact our office and, depending on our capacity, we will either assist you or provide you options, including potential referrals.

BC Human Rights Clinic

We provide representation to complainants who have cases before the BC Human Rights Tribunal. If your application for representation by our Clinic is accepted, an advocate will assist you with the early stages of your complaint, including exploring settlement. Although most cases settle, should your case go to a hearing, a lawyer may be able to assist you in your preparation and potentially even represent you at your hearing.

Community Advocate Support Line

We provide a dedicated legal support service exclusively for advocates and community workers in B.C.


CLAS News

CLAS at the Supreme Court of Canada fighting for Harassment-free workplaces

PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 27, 2017

If you are being harassed at work, you may not have the right to file a human rights complaint, because it all depends on who is harassing you.

A case being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada recently decided that a worker can only make a human rights complaint about harassment in their workplace if the person harassing them is in a position of authority, such as a supervisor or manager, or if their employer allows the harassment to occur. But what happens if the person harassing you is not above you at work? Or, what if the harasser works for a different employer at your multi-job worksite? Right now, the situation is unclear.

The Supreme Court will hear the appeal on Tuesday March 28, 2017. Its decision could impact whether everyone in BC is protected from harassment in the workplace under the province’s human rights legislation.

The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) is supporting the rights of all workers by acting as an intervener in the appeal, along with several other groups. CLAS lawyer Juliana Dalley, who will be appearing at the Supreme Court of Canada, says all workers should have the ability to make complaints about discrimination and harassment in the workplace — whether it is from a supervisor or co-worker.

The appeal will look at a recent case in Delta, where the person’s position of authority was the deciding factor in having the complaint dismissed. The case involves an engineer and construction foreman working at the same construction site, but employed by two different companies. The engineer filed a human rights complaint, alleging that the foreman shoved him and harassed him with racist, Islamophobic and homophobic insults, such as, "You are not going to blow us up with a suicide bomb, are you?" The BC Court of Appeal dismissed this complaint finding that the foreman could not have discriminated against the engineer since he was not in a position of "authority" over the engineer.

Dalley warns this could send the wrong message about harassment in the workplace. She says many people already find it difficult to bring a human rights complaint forward because they may not know their rights or have access to legal help, may feel embarrassed, worry about how co-workers might treat them, or fear for their job security. So if they do come forward with a complaint, only to have it dismissed because of the position of the harasser within the company, the person is being victimized again, but this time by a legal system that does not recognize their complaint.

She says this case is an important step towards ensuring everyone’s right to a safe workplace — free from discrimination.

Lawyers Lindsay Lyster, of Moore Edgar Lyster, and Juliana Dalley will be representing CLAS at the Supreme Court.

Media inquiries contact:

Dianne Bankay, Communications Coordinator

Community Legal Assistance Society

604 657 0667 dbankay@clasbc.net

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