Human Rights Tribunals in Canada
In recent years, human rights complaints against employers have escalated. In British Columbia, the grounds for discrimination in BC are on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender, age, criminal conviction, political belief and as otherwise outlined in the British Columbia Human Rights Code. Each province has its own definition https://ccdi.ca/media/1414/20171102-publications-overview-of-hr-codes-by-province-final-en.pdf
While some privately held companies purchase Directors’ & Officers’ Liability (D&O) which typically includes employment practices liability (EPL), many do not. Often private companies forgo this coverage with the belief that their exposure is minimal. In essence, though, any organization that has employees has EPL exposure. For organizations who do not carry D&O, employment practices claims, including human rights complaints can greatly impact their organization’s bottom line – whether the allegations are founded or not. The Human Rights Tribunal (HRT) will decide each case on its own merit. Meanwhile, legal costs will continue to mount.
In 2018, a client’s employee filed an HRT claim alleging age discrimination. Until that case, all HRT “age” related claims we’d heard of were based on older employees. Since the employee bringing the HRT action was in her early 20’s, this was a real eye-opener. When the HRT tossed out the first complaint, the employee pursued another angle and the case is still ongoing. Legal costs for the organization have already reached over $40,000 and are expected to climb.