Discriminatory rental advertisement resolved quickly
September 21, 2018
Many human rights complaints are resolved quickly without the need for mediation or legal proceedings. Sometimes, the timely response of an intake consultant can resolve concerns before a complaint is formalized.
That was precisely what happened when John* contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission about an advertisement he’d seen on Kijiji. The ad for a rental property in which the landlord was looking for someone who would keep the place clean and who didn’t smoke. Near the end of the ad, the landlord had included the condition that he didn’t “want anybody on ASSISTANCE.”
John felt this discriminated against people who receive public assistance, so he emailed the Commission voicing his concerns.
The email was sent to an intake officer who, after reviewing the ad, noticed the landlord’s phone number at the bottom. The intake consultant decided to pursue a “pre-complaint” resolution. He called John to discuss his complaint and to obtain more information, then called the landlord.
The landlord said he’d included the “nobody on assistance” condition because he’d had bad experiences with tenants not paying rent and damaging his property. The intake consultant informed him that The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination against people who are in receipt of public assistance. He explained the SHRC’s complaint process.
The landlord understood. He said he would remove all words in the ad that may be discriminatory, especially the part that read: “Don’t want anybody on ASSISTANCE.”
When informed about this, John was happy with the outcome and was surprised at how quickly his concerns were addressed. Nothing more needed to be done.
From start to finish, the complaint was resolved in about 20 minutes.
To see all the prohibited grounds protected under the Code, go to: http://www.qp.gov.sk.ca/documents/English/Statutes/Statutes/S24-1.pdf
Woman donates settlement funds to CNIB
September 7, 2018
On a chilly November evening, Jocelyn* and her family went to a restaurant near their home for supper. Jocelyn is partially-sighted so, as usual, they brought along her service dog Rusty*.
The family was looking forward to having an evening out together, but when they arrived at the restaurant there was a problem. One of the staff members denied the family entry because company policy did not permit pets in the establishment.
Jocelyn explained to the staff member that Rusty was a service animal and that denying her family entry to the restaurant because of the dog would be a violation of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
Uncertain about what to do, the staff member called the restaurant’s manager. After the call the staff member reiterated that company policy did not allow animals in the restaurant.
Frustrated by the situation, the family left the restaurant.
Not only was Jocelyn upset that her service dog wasn’t allowed in the restaurant, she was also concerned with the impact the incident had on her children. After the incident, her children would become stressed about going to other restaurants and worried about being embarrassed in front of other patrons. So Jocelyn filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. She believed the actions of the restaurant’s staff constituted discrimination on the basis of disability, contrary to section 12 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
Her complaint was formalized and sent to the SHRC’s mediation process.
Prior to mediation, the restaurant called Jocelyn to apologize for the incident and made sure it provided training to all its employees.
During mediation, the restaurant issued a formal apology and committed to including the perspective of people with disabilities in future training. It was also agreed that Jocelyn would receive a payment for damage to dignity.
Instead of keeping the money for herself, Jocelyn donated the settlement funds to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
To learn more about Service Animals and the Code, please go to: http://saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/learn/policies/policy-on-service-animals
*Names have been changed.
Settlement mediated between Indigenous man and local store
August 31, 2018
It was around 2:30 am when Alan* finished his shift at work. On his way home, he decided to stop at a local store to purchase some toiletries and a carton of milk. Once he’d found everything he needed, Alan went to the till to pay.
That’s when Alan noticed the security officer who appeared to be searching the store, as though looking for somebody. When the security officer saw Alan standing in line at the till, he abandoned his search and walked directly towards Alan.
Curious, Alan asked the security officer if he was looking for him. The security officer said yes, then accused Alan of secretly stuffing a bottle of mouthwash in his jacket.
Alan unzipped his empty jacket to show the security officer he hadn’t stolen anything. Upset and embarrassed by the situation, Alan immediately put down the items he was about to purchase and left the store.
When Alan arrived home he called the store and spoke to the night supervisor about the incident. Unsatisfied with what was said during the conversation, Alan decided to contact the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to file a complaint. As an Indigenous person, Alan believed the actions of the security officer constituted discrimination on the basis of ancestry or race, which is contrary to section 12 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
The Commission formalized the complaint and the case was referred to the Commission's mediation process. The SHRC mediator — who does not advocate for one party or another, and does not make a decision as to whether the Code was violated — sat down with both parties to seek a resolution.
During that mediation process, it was agreed that Alan would receive a payment for damage to dignity and a letter of apology. The store also agreed to have its staff participate in a diversity and inclusion training program designed to increase awareness about stereotypes and prejudice. Moreover, since Alan wished to continue frequenting the store, and since the store wanted the same, both parties agreed to work towards building a renewed relationship based on respect and understanding.
*Names have been changed.
Quick resolution in service animal case
August 24, 2018
Last week, Sheila* — a visually impaired woman who requires the use of a service animal — was taking her daughter to an appointment.
Rather than booking a taxi by telephone or online, like she normally does, Sheila and her daughter, along with her service dog “Barnsley*”, opted to go to a nearby taxi stand. They approached the first cab in line with hopes of getting a ride, however, the driver refused to let them enter the cab because of the dog.
Sheila’s daughter explained that Barnsley was a service animal and pointed to a sign on the window of the cab that indicated people with service animals were to be accommodated.
Still, the cab driver refused to give them a ride and locked the doors of his car.
The Saskatchewan Human Right Commission was made aware of the incident and, soon after, contacted the cab company in order to get both sides of the story and better understand the situation.
The cab company was aware of the situation. It acknowledged the seriousness of the matter and promised to take action. The company then held a meeting with the driver. Afterwards, the company suspended the driver for a period of time and mandated that he retake the World Host training program.
One week from when the incident took place, Sheila called the SHRC to discuss her feelings about how the issue was resolved. She informed the Commission that she was satisfied with the actions the cab company had taken and didn’t wish to pursue any further action against the cab company.
The Commission would like to remind individuals and business that The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code requires the accommodation of persons who use service animals in employment, education, and access to public services and places. For more information about service animals, go to: http://saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/learn/policies/policy-on-service-animals
*Names have been changed