Board Rules Woman Was Discriminated Against

first_imgAn independent human rights board of inquiry has concluded that the owner of a Needs convenience store in New Waterford discriminated by not hiring back an employee following her recovery from an injury. Molly Marchand of New Waterford was unable to return to work following an automobile accident in February 2004 in which she suffered soft tissue injuries. When she approached Judy Burchell, owner at the time of the Needs convenience store where she was employed, about a return to work she was informed that her job had been given to a new employee. In her written decision, board chair Elizabeth Cusack found that Ms. Marchand had a disability as defined in the Human Rights Act and Ms. Burchell had failed to fulfill her duty to accommodate. “I find that the employer did not rebut the prima facie case or establish that accommodation was made to the point of undue hardship,” wrote Ms. Cusack. “In fact, there would have been no hardship whatsoever, other than the awkwardness of dealing with the fresh hire, whose longevity in the workplace was unknown compared with Ms. Marchand’s dependability.” The board chair has ordered Ms. Burchell and her company 3010497 Nova Scotia Limited to pay $7,329.51 in lost wages and $4,500 in general damages plus pre-judgement interest to Ms. Marchand. In her decision, Ms. Cusack raised a concern about the level of human rights knowledge of employers in the province. Ms. Burchell had testified she had a copy of the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code but not the Human Rights Act. In her decision, Ms. Cusack recommends that employers consider a way of ensuring that all their employees and all managers have copies of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. A complaint is referred to an independent board of inquiry when the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission believes a prima facie case of discrimination is made after an investigation by a human rights officer. The chief judge of the provincial court selects a board chair from a roster and the commissioners ratify the nomination. The decision on the complaint is then in the hands of the independent board. Evidence collected during investigation of a complaint is presented at the hearing by the commission’s legal counsel. The complainant and respondent can make submissions and question witnesses. The board chair then decides whether discrimination has occurred. All parties have a right to appeal decisions of boards of inquiry to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. A copy of the decision is available on the website at www.gov.ns.ca/humanrights .last_img

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