The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has paid $20,000 ingeneral damages to an Isle Madame woman who filed a complaint ofsex discrimination. In a decision dated Tuesday, Nov. 16, Chief Justice JosephKennedy decided the Human Rights Commission did not, however,have to pay the legal expenses of the other parties involved withthe complaint. The chief justice instead suggested that theorganizations have further discussions about what costs, if any,should be paid. The complaint involved a woman who alleged that ClearwaterLimited Partnership and the Canadian Automobile Workers Union haddiscriminated against her when she was an employee at theClearwater Plant in Arichat. The union and Clearwater had planned to ask the court to quash aHuman Rights Commission investigation of the case. They continuedwith legal action after the woman’s complaint was settled,petitioning the court for legal costs incurred by the lengthyprocess involved in handling the complaint. In his written decision, Chief Justice Kennedy said he did notfind evidence that would justify “the dramatic imposition” oflegal costs. He said that all of the parties “share in the creation of thecircumstances that led to this unfortunate situation.” The case has a long history and was affected by a settlementreached in earlier complaints arising from the same workplace. In 1994, Clearwater, the union and the Human Rights Commissionhad entered into a settlement agreement with five othercomplainants. As a result of that settlement and otherinformation, the commission understood that it could not accept acomplaint from the woman when she approached the commission laterthat year. She eventually filed a complaint with the Ombudsman’sOffice. In 2002, the assistant ombudsman recommended in a report to thecommission that the complaint be reactivated or a new oneaccepted. The report was critical of the portion of the earliersettlement that prohibited the commission from accepting futurecomplaints alleging sex discrimination against Clearwater and theunion. Upon reviewing that report, the commission accepted the complaintfor processing. Clearwater and the union then took legal actionagainst the commission. Concerned with the unexpected costs ofthose legal actions, the commission entered into a settlementwith the woman. “This was a unique set of circumstances and we needed to act,”said commission CEO Mayann Francis. Ms. Francis said once a costbenefit analysis was completed, the commission was confident thata settlement with the woman was the most prudent decision and useof resources. In his decision this week Chief Justice Kennedy said he did notfind that the commission acted improperly in accepting the newcomplaint. The court decision is available on the commission website athttp://gov.ns.ca/humanrights/decisions/default.htm .
Human Rights Case Settled
Last Updated on: October 22nd, 2019 at 1:40 am, by