Human Rights & Duties


I was discriminated against in my job

These case summaries show examples of the awards the Tribunal has made when a person has suffered injury to their dignity and self-respect because of discrimination. The summaries also show what other awards were made, like compensation for lost wages or other expenses.

Note: See also “I was harassed” and “I was fired”.

Johnson v. D & B Traffic Control and another, 2010 BCHRT 287 ($2,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical disability (perceived disability based on weight)
Discrimination: Not called into work

The discrimination:   Mr. Lowe worked as a flagger for the employer in the spring and summer. The employer did not call him in for work the next spring. This was in part because the employer did not think he could stand  because of his weight. The employer told him his disability was the reason.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Mr. Lowe said he was hurt when the employer told him he was not being offered work because of his weight. He wondered what was wrong with him. He said he felt depressed and did not want to leave his home. He felt that he was not good enough to get another job. The Tribunal considered that the employer immediately apologized and gave him more information about why he was not being called in. He was aware that he remained on the call-out list for work.

Pennock v. Centre City Drywall (No. 4), 2009 BCHRT 333 ($2,500)

Area:                 Wages
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Lower pay
Wage loss:       $5,128.75

The discrimination:   Ms. Pennock worked as a drywaller. The employer paid her less than it paid a male employee for similar work.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Ms. Pennock said she was devastated to find out about the differences in wages.

Note: This case was upheld by the BC Supreme Court in Kraska v. Pennock, 2011 BCSC 109.

McBride v. Orca Sand & Gravel and others (No. 2), 2010 BCHRT 190 ($4,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical disability
Discrimination: Reduction of position from full-time to part-time
Wage loss:       Top up in wages for 3.5 month period

The discrimination:   Ms. McBride was off work for about three months for reasons related to her disability. While she was off, the employer decided to reduce her hours, in part because of her disability. The employer sent her a letter saying that they were reducing her hours from 40 to 24 per week. The letter said that she should arrange for benefits herself.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Ms. McBride was surprised and upset. The way the employer delivered the news affected her medical condition and delayed her return to work. When she returned to work, the transition was smooth. She kept her job and got a full-time, better paying position quite quickly.

Alagaratnam v. Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, 2013 BCHRT 251 ($5,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical disability
Discrimination: Cut off benefits
Other awards:  $6,517 (insurance benefits)

The discrimination:   Mr. Alagaratnam had a shoulder injury. He could not keep doing his manual job. He went off of work on a medical leave. The employer did not believe his absence was because of a disability. It cut him off of his benefits. This decision was based on the false assumption that he did not have a real medical reason for being away from work. It made him lose 19 weeks of disability payments.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Mr. Alagaratnam could not help with his living expenses while he was cut off of benefits. He was stressed by the message that his employer did not believe that he had a serious medical condition.

National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers of Canada (CAW   Canada) Local 111 v. Coast Mountain Bus Company (No. 9), 2008 BCHRT 52 ($5,000 and $6,000)

Area:                 Employment
Grounds:          Physical disability
Discrimination: Attendance requirements

The discrimination:   The employer had a program to manage attendance. An employee could not be absent more than the average absenteeism rate. If they were, they could be fired. The complainants each had disabilities. They would try to work when they were unwell. They postponed medical procedures. An employee with a disability could be fired earlier for non-disability absences. The employer also counted partial day absences during return-to-work programs. The program discriminated against employees with disabilities.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Mr. Da Luz – $6,000

Effect:  Mr. Da Luz said the stress negatively affected his Crohn’s disease, and at one point he got so ill that he lost 20 pounds in three to four weeks. He found it frustrating to be place on the program for absences he had no real control over. He was doing his best to manage his condition.

Effect:  Mr. Prasad had three chronic conditions, including diabetes. He delayed knee surgery until he had enough vacation time so that his absence would not count on his attendance record. He worked hard to have regular attendance. He followed his doctor’s advice about medication, diet, and exercise. He found the program intimidating, frustrating, and stressful.

Mr. Templeman – $5,000

Effect:  Mr. Templeman had injuries and PTSD. He cancelled surgery. He was frustrated. He his only option was to drive his bus in pain. He lost trust in his employer.

Mr. Fernandes – $5,000

Effect:  Mr. Fernandes had diabetes. He needed surgery but his supervisory told him time off could result in problems. He was removed from the attendance management program, but it continued to affect him. He had surgery on vacation time so he did not risk his employment. He was stressed, angry and felt an injustice.

Mr. Watson – $6,000

Effect:  Mr. Watson was fired under the attendance management program, but reinstated after arbitration. He felt a lot of stress. He had recently suffered a stroke and expected to be fired again.

Ms. Lieb – $5,000

Effect:  Ms. Lieb was absent for two years after she inhaled toxic fumes on her bus. The employer put her on the program. She delayed surgery. Then she returned to work sooner than advised. She was angry and confused.
Note: This part of the decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. v. National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers of Canada (CAW-Canada), Local 111, 2010 BCCA 447

Asad v. Kinexus Bioinformatics, 2008 BCHRT 293 ($6,000)

Area:                 Employment
Grounds:          Race, religion, place of origin, political belief (Arab Muslim from the Middle East)
Discrimination: Poisoned work environment
Other awards:  $599 (medical report)

The discrimination:   Mr. Asad was a popular and respected employee. Then a co-worker suspected Mr. Asad was involved in the terrorist acts of 9/11. This caused Mr. Asad to be isolated in the workplace. The situation improved after the person who started the talk left.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Mr. Asad felt hurt and humiliated. He had anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, and depression. He had to get medical attention. The Tribunal awarded the amount that Mr. Asad requested, but said it would have awarded more.

Note: This decision was upheld by the BC Supreme Court in Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation v. Asad, 2010 BCSC 33

C.S.W.U. Local 1611 v. SELI Canada and others (No. 8), 2008 BCHRT 436 ($10,000 each)

Area:                 Employment
Grounds:          Race, colour, ancestry, place of origin (Latin American)
Discrimination: Lower wages and benefits
Wage loss:       Salary differential for time worked
Other awards:  $224 per month worked (expense differential)

The discrimination:   An employer hired workers from Europe and Latin America to work on a project. For two years, the employer paid the Latin American workers much lower wages. It housed them in a motel, rather than a condo near the project. It gave them less choice for meals. It made them submit expenses, instead of giving them cash each month.

Vulnerability:  The Latin American workers were vulnerable. They were working in Canada on temporary work permits. They did not speak English. They depended on their employer for wages, housing, food, and transport back to their families. They could not avoid the discrimination while they worked on the project.

Effect:  The workers did not feel they were treated fairly. For two years, the treatment sent the message that the workers were worth less and were less worthy because they are Latin American. The discrimination affected every part of their working and leisure lives.

Morgan-Hung v. Provincial Health Services and others (No. 4), 2009 BCHRT 371 ($10,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical and mental disability (Parkinson’s Disease)
Discrimination: Reduced work week causing job loss
Wage loss:       $14,148

The discrimination:   Ms. Morgan-Hung was on probation. She told her employer that she has Parkinson’s Disease. The employer thought the disability or medication affected her memory and cognitive abilities. It thought it affected her performance. This was based on stereotypes. The employer reduced her work week by one day. This destroyed the employment relationship. Ms. Morgan-Hung tried to resolve the situation. The employer’s response gave the message that she was not wanted. She left her job. She was justified in doing so. The employer put a “do not re-employ” note on her file.

Vulnerability:  Ms. Morgan-Hung was in a vulnerable position. Her illness was progressive. She knew what impact it had on her father.

Effect:  The discrimination had a significant and long-lasting effect. It affected Ms. Morgan-Hung physically and emotionally. She had to deal with her “worst fear”. She was devastated when she was told her memory was slipping and that her work week was reduced. She said that she was embarrassed. She lost confidence and became depressed. She questioned how her illness was progressing. The “do not re-employ” note also hurt her well-being.

Note: This part of the decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in Morgan-Hung v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal), 2011 BCCA 122

Balikama obo others v. Khaira Enterprises and others, 2014 BCHRT 107 ($10,000 + each)

Area:                 Employment
Grounds:          Race, colour, ancestry, place of origin and sex (African men and one woman)
Discrimination: Poor conditions, name calling, irregular pay, failure to pay, sexual harassment

The discrimination:   An employer hired workers to plant trees. Some of the workers were Black men who had moved to Canada from Africa. The employer treated all of the workers badly. This included poor housing, food quality and working conditions. Most of the poor treatment was not discrimination. But, the toilet situation at one worksite was disgusting. It was like conditions on slave ships. It had a discriminatory effect on the Black workers. The employer also treated the Black workers with contempt. It called them “nigger” and “lazy dogs”. The employer did not pay the workers regularly. This had a much different effect on the African workers. Finally, it did not pay the African workers in full. The discrimination went on for up to four months.

The employer also sexually harassed one female worker. This included looking at her buttocks. It included comments about her underwear, and having “red lips from sucking on” a co-worker. The employer criticized her because she had a sexual relationship with a Black man.

Vulnerability:  The workers were mostly new immigrants to Canada from Central African countries.

Effect:  The discrimination had a significant effect on the workers. They felt embarrassed, some depression, frustration, and a loss of self-esteem. The workers compared the treatment to slavery. This was not how they expected to be treated in Canada. They testified about the effect of not having money for their families or being able to pay rent. An expert explained the significance of the mistreatment for Black workers.

Lowe v. William L. Rutherford (BC) and another (No. 3), 2007 BCHRT 336 ($20,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical disability (Crohn’s Disease)
Discrimination: Not put on regular payroll and fired from job
Wage loss:       $14,500
Other awards:  $11,961.08 (lost benefits); $174.40 (cost of getting medical records); legal expenses up to time of complaint

The discrimination:   Mr. Lowe needed to take time of work when his Crohn’s Disease flared up. His employer refused to put him on the regular payroll. As a result, he lost benefits and could not qualify for EI. The employer fired him because of his absence from work due to his disability.

Vulnerability:  Mr. Lowe had a disability that was made worse when he was fired. He was vulnerable as an employee.

Effect:  Mr. Lowe was disappointed and upset when his employer denied him regular status. This lead to financial trouble when he needed a leave of absence. He was in shock after he was fired. He felt sick and went into a state of panic. He wondered how he would pay his rent and bills. He felt angry. He dreaded telling his fianc  he had lost his job. The wedding had to be cancelled. His symptoms got worse. He worried and wondered if he would be able to work again. When his symptoms got worse, his doctor prescribed morphine for the pain. He was weak and tired.

Bratzer v. Victoria Police Department (No. 3), 2016 BCHRT 50 ($20,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Political belief (advocacy for changes to drug laws)
Discrimination: Restrictions on activities

The discrimination: Mr. Bratzer was a police officer. He supported changes to drug laws. His employer ordered him not to participate in a “harm reduction” conference. It told him not to speak at a Green Party fundraiser. The employer told Mr. Bratzer to ask for permission to speak at events. It then told Mr. Bratzer that he could not speak to the media or participate in advocacy events.

Vulnerability:  None identified, but the right to freedom of expression in relation to political belief is a significant right.

Effect:  The conduct affected Mr. Bratzer’s self-worth. He had depression and gained weight. Mr. Bratzer limited his activities because of the threat of discipline and even the end of his career. The conduct seriously interfered with Mr. Bratzer’s right to express his political beliefs.

Cassidy v. Emergency Health and Services Commission and others (No. 2), 2008 BCHRT 125 ($22,500)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical disability (multiple sclerosis)
Discrimination: Took complainant out of active service and did not allow him to return to work as a paramedic

The discrimination:   Mr. Cassidy was a paramedic with multiple sclerosis. His employer made negative comments about his disability. His crew became afraid of working with him. The employer did not give him work for a year. It kept changing the terms that would let him to return to work.

Vulnerability:  Mr. Cassidy had a serious disability. He had no income. He lived in a small community with limited other jobs available.

Effect:  Mr. Cassidy felt anxious and frustrated. He did not easily show injury to his emotions, but the discrimination had a serious negative effect on him.

Note: This decision was overturned by the BC Supreme Court and then restored by the BC Human Rights Tribunal in Cassidy v. Emergency Health Services Commission and another (No. 5), 2013 BCHRT 116.

Kerr v. Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) (No. 4), 2009 BCHRT 196 ($30,000)

Area:                  Employment
Grounds:           Physical disability (vision)
Discrimination: Employer failed to return complainant to work
Wage loss:        Two years and ten months
Other awards:   Value of lost pension; bonus payments

The discrimination:   Ms. Kerr was diagnosed with a vision-related disability. At first, her employer helped her. But when she wanted to return to work, it did not take steps to return her to work for almost four years. She tried to talk about returning to work with senior management. They generally ignored her emails, letters and telephone calls. Ms. Kerr was a high performing employee. Her employer treated her like a person with little or nothing to give to the workplace because of her disability.

Vulnerability:  Ms. Kerr had a vision disability.

Effect:  Ms. Kerr was a successful business woman. She thought she would be able to bring everyone together to find a solution when she was ready to return to work. She felt like she failed. She felt disappointed, humiliated and discouraged. She was 58 years old at the time of the hearing. Ms. Kerr testified that she had wasted important career years that she would never get back. She was upset that she could not contribute financially to her family, which she had always done in the past. 

Ms. Kerr was visibly upset. She cried throughout her testimony about the impact of her employer’s conduct. Her relationship with her employer deteriorated. She felt a significant loss. She trusted her employer and felt it let her down.
Note: This case was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd./Lt e. v. Kerr, 2011 BCCA 266.

Davis v. Sandringham Care Centre and another, 2015 BCHRT 148 ($35,000)

Area:                 Employment
Grounds:          Mental disability (post traumatic stress disorder)
Discrimination: Negative treatment based on stereotype, job loss
Wage loss:        $784.89
Other awards:  about $1,500 (expenses)

The discrimination:   Ms. Davis was a care aide. Her employer questioned her at length about her mental health. This was intrusive. The employer then made her go to the hospital, based on stereotypes about her mental disability. It wrongly viewed her as a safety risk. The employer did not let her return to work for six weeks. When she was permitted to return to work she felt unwanted.

Vulnerability:  Ms. Davis had a mental disability. As a child, she was the victim of criminal, abusive behaviour by adults. As a result, she had PTSD. This was a significant factor in the award.

Effect:  The conduct was extremely destructive. Ms. Davis was treated like she was “crazy” and dangerous. She was devastated by the treatment. She suffered extreme gut pain. She felt very nervous and anxious. She testified that she suffered extreme indignity when she was sent to the hospital against her will. This was Ms. Davis’ first job as a care aide. She had a pristine work record. The treatment was very damaging to her self-confidence.