For parents who are concerned about losing their job due to parent responsibilities of raising their children, this is a step in the right direction.
“Vancouver, B.C. – On Friday, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued a decision that clarifies the circumstances in which parents and caregivers can seek accommodation in their workplaces.
The Court released their decision in Gibraltar Mines Ltd. v. Harvey, a case alleging discrimination against the mother of a young child by her employer. B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner intervened in the case to address the legal test for family status discrimination in B.C.
‘Family status’ is a protected ground in B.C.’s Human Rights Code, prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s family situation, such as if a person is a caregiver for children or elderly parents. To determine whether family status discrimination has taken place, decision makers in B.C. have traditionally used a two-part test. This test asked whether the employer unilaterally changed a worker’s terms of employment and whether there was a serious interference with a substantial parental or other family duty as a result. The main issue before the Court of Appeal in Gibraltar was whether the law did, in fact, require a unilateral change to terms of employment as part of the legal test to establish discrimination.
Friday’s ruling means that employees can qualify for a workplace accommodation when any condition of their employment has an adverse effect on an important parental duty. Complainants are not required to show that their employer has changed their terms of employment. This is particularly important for parents of young children whose parental obligations may change during their employment and conflict with their workplace responsibilities.”
“The Court’s decision is welcome and is a significant win for gender equality in the workplace in many ways. It is an important step forward, but there remain outstanding issues that need to be resolved to ensure that mothers and other caregivers are able to access the full protection of human rights law.”Kasari Govender, B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner
For the full release read the HR Commissioners announcement