Judicial Review Update

In 2007 I filed a complaint against my employer, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission because I believe that I was subjected to gender discrimination as an HRM firefighter.  I waited 5 years before the commission dismissed my case after, what seemed to me to be, a shoddy investigation. I subsequently filed for a judicial review of their decision in April of 2012.

On February 19, 2014, the court released its decision in regards to this review. The result of this review, which can be found here, was in my favor. The judge, Honourable Justice Arthur LeBlanc, ordered that the decision of the NSHRC to dismiss my case be quashed and a that new investigation is to be undertaken by those with no prior involvement in my case.

Here a couple highlights from the court’s decision:

[63] …A thorough investigation required more than merely accepting the contents of the HRM response at face value. A reasonable investigator would have recognized that additional crucial information could be gathered by conducting thorough and critically-minded interviews with CM and DCB. Given the central importance of their version of events to the outcome of the investigation, such interviews were required for a thorough investigation (Page 28).

[65] I find that D’s failure to interview either CM or DCB amounts to a breach of procedural fairness pursuant to the test set out in Slattery, supra. This breach alone is sufficient to invalidate the investigation and render the Commissioners unable to make a proper screening determination on this case based on the sufficiency of the record before them (Page 29).

I’ve been asked how I feel about this decision, and I have to say that in many ways I feel vindicated, at least in my complaints against the commission. I still have reservations about my case being again undertaken by an organization that has clearly had some major problems, according to recent news reports (Jan. 7/14 and Jan. 8/14). That being said, I remain optimistic that there are some that care and will make every effort to address my claims fairly.

I can confidentially say that my efforts to keep fighting against the segregation and discrimination of women in the male dominated workplace will continue, and I believe that companies, employers, and government agencies are going to have to acknowledge and address this issue more forcefully.

On International Women’s Day, the timing could not be better for women to speak up and tell their stories of harassment, and I encourage women here in Nova Scotia, other provinces, and abroad to find the courage to do so.  I have noticed an awakening happening – a momentum in thought and action within the minds of women around the world.

Government agencies and corporations tend to listen to the masses much more than a single voice.  They can dismiss and ignore me, a single voice, but they cannot ignore thousands of women standing up shoulder to shoulder.  For my next blog – why women don’t speak out and why we absolutely need to.

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