Media contact

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Dianne Bankay  - Communications Coordinator

604 657 0667 (cell)

604 673 3108 (office)

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


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

Government agrees to let families keep EI maternity and parental benefits


Vancouver [September 28, 2016] – In response to a human rights complaint, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation announced yesterday that it will end the practice of clawing back Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits from families receiving income and disability assistance. The government also announced that it will no longer claw back EI benefits for parents caring for critically ill children. These changes will allow about 200 families with young children in BC to keep their EI income replacement at a time when they need it most.

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Charter challenge of forced psychiatric treatment filed in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver, BC [September 13, 2016] – Two individuals and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities filed a legal action in the BC Supreme Court today to challenge a BC law that forces psychiatric treatment on people without their consent. The case alleges that the law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Family files human rights complaint challenging EI maternity and parental benefits clawback

Vancouver [May 16, 2016] The Community Legal Assistance Society has filed a human rights complaint on behalf of a BC woman who had her Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits taken away because her partner receives disability assistance. The complaint alleges that the BC government is engaging in sex discrimination contrary to human rights law by depriving women of these benefits.

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BC Veterinary Medical Association Engages in Systemic Discrimination Against Indo-Canadian Veterinarians

In a landmark decision the BC Human Rights Tribunal has recently ruled, after a very lengthy hearing, that the BC Veterinary Medical Association (BCVMA) engaged in systemic discrimination against a group of thirteen Indo-Canadian vets operating discount clinics in the Lower Mainland.

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Families of children with Type 1 Diabetes file human rights complaint

Vancouver [March 3, 2015] — On March 2, 2015 two families of children with Type 1 Diabetes filed human rights complaints about diabetes care in school. The Ministries responsible for providing diabetes care, the Ministries of Health, Education, and Children and Family Development, are offering one standardized care plan for all children in BC and refusing to allow any changes to the plan to accommodate differences between children.

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Families file lawsuit challenging the claw back of child support

Vancouver [October 15, 2014] – On October 14, 2014, three families and the Single Mothers’ Alliance of BC filed a legal action in the BC Supreme Court to challenge the claw back of child support payments from families on income and disability assistance in BC. The case alleges that deducting child support from families on assistance violates their right to equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Temporary foreign workers defend right to see evidence against them in human rights complaint against Tim Hortons

On March 27 and 28, 2014, four former temporary foreign workers from Mexico will be represented in Supreme Court to defend an order by the BC Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) that requires Tim Hortons to disclose its corporate Operating Manual to them.  

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New report finds that BC’s residential tenancy system is plagued by unfairness

A new report by a legal advocacy organization identifies significant and persistent unfairness at the Residential Tenancy Branch, the body charged with administering BC’s tenancy laws. The report, entitled “On Shaky Ground: Fairness at the Residential Tenancy Branch,” sets out the ways in which this unfairness is jeopardizing the protections set out in BC’s tenancy laws.

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