Human Rights & Duties
I saw a discriminatory publication
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.
Grounds: Religion, marital status, sexual orientation and place of origin
Discrimination: Distributing posters
The discrimination: The complainants were a married, lesbian couple. They were also Wiccan. One was American. She was seeking city council support for a public art project. In response, Ms. Hedley distributed a poster throughout the town that said:
SHOW UP at City Hall AND “SAY NO! TO [Ms.] Dahlquist Gray AN American Wiccen Lesbian who wants to line her and her wife’s pockets with Canadians Money!… We don’t need a monument forever reminding us that God has been replaced by a goddess-loving American Wiccen Lesbian.” This publication was discriminatory.
Vulnerability: The complainants were at their most vulnerable points.
Effect: One complainant began to have more trouble with a male supervisor at work. She left her job of 4 years. She became oversensitive to comments about her sexuality. The other complainant lost income when students would not take her art class because of the poster. The discrimination seriously affected their relationship.
Li v. Mr. B, 2018 BCHRT 228 ($5,000)
Grounds: Gender Identity and Expression
Discrimination: Attempt to interfere in employment
The discrimination: After an acrimonious end to a tenancy relationship, the landlord took a photo of Mr. Li wearing a dress to Mr. Li’s workplace, knowing he was not “out” at work, and said, “I want to warn you about what kind of people you have working here”. This was an attempt to interfere with Mr. Li’s employment based on an assumption that Mr. Li’s employer would react the photo in a way that would hurt Mr. Li.
Vulnerability: Mr. Li was at his most vulnerable point and was vulnerable in his employment.
Effect: The incident emotionally harmed Mr. Li – he felt anxiety, anger and stress – and he experienced a loss of dignity in his employment.
Oger v. Whatcott (No. 7), 2019 BCHRT 58 ($35,000)
Grounds: Gender Identity and Expression
Discrimination: Distributing flyers
The discrimination: When Ms. Oger ran for public office, Mr. Whatcott sought to stop her from being elected because she is transgender and, to that end, circulated a flyer calling Ms. Oger a “biological male who has renamed himself… after he embraced a transvestite lifestyle”, expressing concern “about the promotion and growth of homosexuality and transvestitism in British Columbia and how it is obscuring the immutable truth about our God given gender”, describing being transgender as an “impossibility”, which exposes people to harm and constitutes a sin, and telling people not to vote for Ms. Oger or her party.
Vulnerability:Transgender people are uniquely vulnerable given the invidious, dehumanizing stereotype that their very existence is – at best – an act of misguided make-believe or – at worst – a deliberate and malevolent deception. They face pervasive discrimination, including in the political realm.
Effect: The discrimination was designed to interfere with Ms. Oger’s participation in the political life of this province. It drew on the most insidious stereotypes and myths about transgender people and called on the electorate to conclude that Ms. Oger was, by sole virtue of her gender identity, unsuitable for public office. Its effect was expose Ms. Oger to hatred and contempt. It affected Ms. Oger’s ability to run her political campaign by forcing her to contend with an argument that she was, because of characteristics protected by the Code, unfit to stand office. The Flyer and its potential ramifications terrified Ms. Oger and caused her to question her decision to run for political office.