Resolutions

Emotional support animal case resolved using pre-complaint process
November 15, 2019

Sometimes a situation can be resolved by reaching out and talking to the parties involved in a complaint. This is often what our intake consultants do during the pre-complaint process, before a complaint has been accepted and formalized.

Recently, a family contacted the Commission regarding trouble they were having getting permission for their daughter, *Sierra, to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) at her condo. The parents were acting as advocates for their daughter, who was an adult with a disability. The condo association had turned down the request, and the parties had become polarized.

A call to the condo association revealed that the board was confused as to why the individual who owned the condo (Sierra) had not asked them directly. She was living independent of her parents, had a job, and was able to interact with neighbours. Her disability was not readily apparent, and the board didn’t understand the need for an ESA.

With permission, the intake consultant was able to help the board understand more about the individual’s disability and why Sierra’s parents were acting as advocates. The board asked that the request for the ESA be made to them directly by Sierra as she was the owner of the condo. The parents were able to help their daughter prepare a written statement for the board that explained what the benefits of the animal were and provided medical documentation to support the request.

After another meeting, the board decided to approve Sierra’s request for an ESA. As well, they are considering changing their by-laws to have a clear procedure for how to handle such requests in the future, as these types of requests are becoming more common.

*Names have been changed.

Disability complaint resolved in investigation
November 15, 2019

John was employed by a local company for a couple of years. Because of the seasonal nature of his profession, John was laid off every summer.

Prior to being laid off last year, John suffered a workplace injury. He filed a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Board, and it was accepted.

Over the summer, the workplace injury disabled John so much that when work started up again in September, John was unable to return. His employer asked for medical documentation, which John provided in the form of a doctor’s note advising medical leave.

When John was ready to start working again, he provided updated medical information indicating he required certain accommodations. John’s employer did not respond to communication regarding his leave and his proposed return to work.

John filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. He believed his employer had refused to accommodate him to the point of undue hardship and, as such, discriminated against him on the basis of disability.

The parties reached a resolution during investigation of the matter. The employer offered to compensate John for damage to dignity. John accepted and the file was closed.

*Names have been changed.

Mediation helps resolve disability/duty to accommodate case
July 19, 2019

Steven* suffered an extensive brain injury as a child. As an adult, Steven got a job through a government-sponsored program designed to match persons with disabilities with employers.

The benefits of this employment were tremendous. Steven felt valued, productive, and was able to live independently of his parents. He never missed a day and always did his best. However, after a while, Steven’s relationships with his work colleagues began to deteriorate and intervention was needed.

Steven’s parents urged his manager to speak with Acquired Brain Injury Services (SK) to gain some knowledge of what might be done to accommodate Steven and, perhaps, correct his behavior at work. The manager didn’t take the advice. He terminated Steven’s employment.

Steven’s parents filed a complaint with the Commission on his behalf. They felt the employer could have done more to accommodate their son. Steven’s parents also believed he had been discriminated against on the basis of disability, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved in mediation. The employer offered to compensate Steven for lost income and benefits, as well as for damage to dignity. The employer also apologized and promised that senior management would receive appropriate training on best practices for accommodation.

Steven, with assistance from his parents, accepted and the file was closed.

*Names have been changed.

Disability complaint resolved in mediation
July 12, 2019

While employed as a skilled labourer, Jennifer injured her back in a recreational accident. She provided medical documentation to her employer which stated she was only able to perform light duties.

For months she was accommodated. Then, one morning, Jennifer’s supervisor assigned her work she wasn’t fit to do. Jennifer protested, but her supervisor insisted. Near the end of the day, Jennifer fell and made her pre-existing back condition worse. She was placed on medical leave and, after several months, was laid off by the company.

Jennifer felt her employer could have done more to accommodate her injury. She also believed she had been discriminated against on the basis of disability, and filed a human rights complaint.

The matter was resolved during mediation. The company offered to compensate Jennifer for lost income and benefits, as well as for damage to dignity.

Jennifer accepted and the file was closed.

*Names have been changed.

Compromise reached in disability case
July 5, 2019

Jake* has Bipolar Disorder, a disability which he disclosed to his employer when hired for an office position.

Early last year, Jake was hospitalized for five weeks in connection with his disability. He informed his employer about the situation and kept in contact during his stay at the hospital.

While Jake was on medical leave, his employer reviewed Jake’s active file load. The employer says it found an unacceptable number of open files. On this basis, the employer terminated Jake’s employment.

Jake disputed the number of open files and believed that his employer had terminated his employment because of his disability. Jake filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission alleging that the employer had failed to accommodate his disability to the point of undue hardship.

The matter was resolved during investigation through negotiation between the parties. The employer agreed to pay compensation to Jake in exchange for a signed release.

Complaints are often resolved in advance of hearing. As more facts are established through investigation, it is not unusual for parties to better understand their position and to seek a compromise in resolution.

*Names have been changed.

Pregnancy case resolved through Directed Mediation
May 10, 2019

Beth* was hired to be a Team Lead with a local company. It was a full-time, permanent position and she enjoyed her work. Beth had a good relationship with her colleagues and her clients.

About a year or so after being hired Beth went on maternity leave. Prior to leaving, she spent a couple of months training her replacement.

While on leave, Beth requested information about how to submit an application for an extension of her maternity leave.

A month later Beth spoke to her supervisor on the phone and was informed that her position at the company had been eliminated. The supervisor told Beth that her replacement, the one she had trained, was doing a good job and that her position was being eliminated due to business needs.

However, after her termination, Beth noticed the company posting jobs online and hiring new people.

Feeling the company could have done more to accommodate her, Beth filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Beth believed she had been discriminated against on the basis of sex (including pregnancy) contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved in Directed Mediation. The company offered to compensate Beth for damage to dignity.

Beth accepted the offer and the file was closed.

*Names have been changed.

Two cases involving retaliation resolved
May 3, 2019

Charlotte* had been with a local company for a year and a half, when a coworker began texting her inappropriate messages. These texts contained sexual remarks and comments about Charlotte’s physical appearance.

Feeling uncomfortable with the situation, Charlotte set up a meeting with her supervisor to report the matter. She asked a coworker, Emma*, to accompany her for support. Emma agreed, but the meeting didn’t go as expected.

Charlotte claimed her supervisor was dismissive of the sexual harassment allegation and, at one point, laughed about the situation.

The following week Charlotte was called in for another meeting and was fired. An hour later, Emma’s employment with the company was terminated as well.

Both filed complaints with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Charlotte believed she had been discriminated against on the basis of sexual harassment, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. She also had reason to believe the company had fired her in retaliation for making a sexual harassment allegation, contrary to section 53 of the Code.

Emma believed her employment was terminated in retaliation for her offering support to Charlotte, also contrary section 53 of the Code.

Charlotte’s case was resolved during investigation, while Emma’s was resolved in Directed Mediation. The company offered to compensate Charlotte and Emma’s lost income, as well as compensate them for damages to dignity. Charlotte and Emma accepted the offers and the files were closed.

Employers should be cautious not to run afoul of the retaliation provision in The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. This provision does not allow an employer to discriminate against, penalize, intimidate, coerce, threaten to dismiss, or retaliate against a person because that person:

  • made or may make a human rights complaint; or
  • gave evidence, testified, or participated in a complaint in some way, or may do so in the future.

*Names have been changed.

Family status case resolved
April 26, 2019

Marg* was a part-time night stocker for a large retailer. She was married and had a child at home. After just a few days of employment, management learned that Marg’s child was unsupervised at home for about 90 minutes each morning. Management suggested that Marg reduce her workload by two hours a shift so she could be at home with her child until her husband left work. Marg thought this was a great idea.

Several months later, there was friction between Marg and her immediate supervisor, and the supervisor told Marg she would have to go back to working full shifts.

Marg protested to the supervisor and to a senior management person about what this would mean for childcare, but to no avail. That evening, after she left work at her regular time, Marg received a termination notice. She also received 4 weeks of severance.

Marg filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. She believed her employer had discriminated against her on the basis of family status, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved in mediation. It was agreed that the friction between her and the immediate supervisor should have been resolved in a much better way, and that altering her hours so that her child would be unsupervised at home was not appropriate. The employer offered to compensate Marg for damage to dignity.

Marg accepted the offer and the file was closed.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code defines family status as “the status of being in a parent and child relationship.” The Code prohibits discrimination towards an individual based on this relationship. As with other Code grounds, employers and employees are both expected to cooperate in meeting the needs of employees based on their family status. This duty to accommodate is often associated with caregiving responsibilities of the parent.

*Names have been changed.

Pregnancy case resolved in directed mediation
April 5, 2019

Joanne* was hired by a local company. As a new employee, Joanne had to serve an initial probation period before being appointed to permanent status.

During this probation period, Joanne informed her boss that she was pregnant. Two weeks later her employment at the company was terminated.

Joanne filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. She believed the company had discriminated against her on the basis of sex, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved in directed mediation. The company offered to compensate Joanne for damage to dignity. Joanne accepted the offer and the file was closed.

It is important to note that The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination against people who are pregnant. Pregnancy-related discrimination is a form of discrimination based on the prohibited ground of sex. As such, pregnant employees are protected from discrimination in the workplace. This protection extends to full-time, part-time, temporary, probationary, and contract workers.

Refusal to hire or promote, termination of employment, harassment, or negative treatment of an individual related to their pregnancy is against the law under the Code.

*Names have been changed.

Mental health case resolved in mediation
February 22, 2019

Alice* was a long-term employee at a local business. She had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and was receiving medical treatment. Alice provided her employer with documentation substantiating her mental health issues and, for awhile, Alice’s condition did not affect her work performance.

But when a series of personal and professional troubles arose, the stress and burn out began to weigh heavily on Alice. She began missing shifts and eventually had to take a medical leave from work.

While on leave, Alice’s employment with the company was terminated.

Alice filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. She believed the company had failed to accommodate for her illness and had discriminated against her on the basis of mental health, contrary to Section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved in mediation. The company offered to compensate Alices’s lost income as well as compensate her for damages to dignity. Alice accepted the offer and the file was closed.

*Names have been changed.

Accommodation issue resolved through appropriate case resolution
February 8, 2019

Brian* works for a company that has offices in different cities around Saskatchewan. For more than a decade, Brian was stationed in an office close to home.

When the company decided to close the office where Brian worked, some of the employees were given the option to work from home. Brian was not one of those employees. Instead, he was transferred to an office in a different city.

This created a problem because Brian is a person with a disability that requires accommodation. He provided his employer with a doctor’s note attesting to the fact that Brian could not commute to another city for work due to his medical condition.

Brian provided further documentation, as requested by his employer, to support his need for accommodation. But no accommodation was provided and the employer insisted that Brian had to attend work in the other city.

Brian contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. He believed his employer had refused to accommodate him to the point of undue hardship and, thereby, discriminated against him on the basis of disability, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved through appropriate case resolution. The employer will look first to accommodate Brian in the office in his home city. Brian’s union helped resolve this office placement issue. As a result of the Commission’s investigation process, the company offered to compensate Brian and to resolve all other outstanding issues.

*Names have been changed.

Disability and employment case settled quickly
January 25, 2019

Stan* has a disability. When he was hired for a management position, he disclosed this disability to his new employer. Stan also informed the employer that he required some accommodation. He required specific computer equipment and work that did not involve walking long distances.

On several occasions, Stan’s boss belittled him because of this need for accommodations. Moreover, Stan was never provided with the computer equipment he needed and, eventually, had to buy it himself. Then, a few months after Stan was hired, his boss requested that he walk to more meetings rather than use a car.

Stan reminded his boss of his disability, to which the boss replied: “I wish I had known that before I hired you.”

About a week after this incident, Stan took a medical leave as advised by his physician. When he returned to work, Stan found out his employment had been terminated.

Stan filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. He believed the actions of his employer constituted discrimination in employment as they failed to accommodate his disability to the point of undue hardship and refused to continue employing him because of his disability, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was solved in investigation. The employer offered to pay compensation to Stan for damage to dignity and returned the computer equipment Stan had purchased, but left in the office.

Stan agreed to the settlement and the case was closed. It took one month for the settlement to be reached.

*Names have been changed.

Racial discrimination and retaliation case settled
January 18, 2019

Jason* worked for the same company for five years. As an Indigenous man he had experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace because of his race. Jason tried to ignore this harassment, but when a new employee subjected him to racist and discriminatory remarks, Jason decided he’d had enough and reported the incident to his manager.

During the conversation with his manager things became heated. Jason left the room to cool off and collect himself. When he returned a short time later, Jason informed his manager that if the workplace harassment and racial discrimination was not addressed, he was going to file a human rights complaint.

The manager suggested that Jason take the rest of the day off and they start fresh the next morning.

When Jason arrived at work the next day, he was given a three-day suspension as a result of the way he’d spoken to his manager. Jason apologized for the tone of the conversation, but maintained that he was frustrated with the seeming lack of concern about the racism and discrimination in the workplace.

Three days later, when his suspension ended, Jason was fired.

Jason filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. He believed the company had violated section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code by discriminating against him on the basis of race. He also had reason to believe the company had fired him in retaliation for his warning about a potential human rights complaint, contrary to section 45 of the Code.

The matter was resolved during investigation. The employer offered to pay compensation to Jason. Jason accepted the offer and the file was closed.

*Names have been changed.

Work schedule conflict resolved
January 11, 2019

In early December, Martin* phoned the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission on behalf of his wife, Jill*.

Martin informed a Commission intake consultant that Jill is a sales clerk at a local business and that her employer had recently extended store hours. The store is now open 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. When the schedule first changed, Jill had requestedto have Sunday’s as her “personal day” for religious reasons. She first made the request verbally in November, then in writing a few weeks later.

Jill’s employer agreed to her request, but then penciled her in to work a Sunday shift in mid-December.

The intake consultant informed Martin about the employer’s duty to accommodate. Together, they agreed the next step would be for Jill to contact the Commission directly to discuss what should be done.

A couple of days before her scheduled Sunday shift, Jill phoned the Commission with an update. She had spoken privately with her employer and they’d reached a compromise. Jill agreed to work one Sunday shift every 5 weeks. The employer cited staff shortages as the reason for not fully accommodating Jill.

Jill will try to work with this schedule, but will contact the Commission should her situation change for the worse.

Jill was grateful for the information the Commission provided about her rights under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, especially about how to request accommodation.

*Names have been changed.

Accommodation for Emotional Support Animal in housing complaint
December 21, 2018

Alice’s* doctor had prescribed the use of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to assist her with a disability. However, the apartment complex that Alice lived in was a “No Pets” building. She had previously contacted the landlord and management company asking for them to accommodate her disability by allowing her to have a cat, but the answer was “no.”

Alice accepted the response, but her health concerns eventually caused her to seek out help. Alice sought the assistance of the SHRC.

An intake consultant at the Commission recommended that Alice update her medical information and contact the management company one more time.

Emotional Support Animals are becoming more accepted as a necessary and helpful addition to the lives of people who suffer from certain types of disabilities. More than a pet, but without the specific training of a service animal, an ESA can be of assistance to people with many types of common disorders.

The management company reviewed Alice’s information and decided to allow her to have the ESA at her apartment, facilitating the accommodation of her disability. Alice was delighted with the result and now has an ESA to help make her daily life easier.

*Names have been changed.

Job interview leads to employment education opportunity
December 14, 2018

Natalie* had a telephone interview for a service position with a local business. During the course of the interview, the manager of the company asked Natalie how old she was.

Natalie informed the manager that it was illegal to ask a potential employee their age during the hiring process. The manager responded by saying he knew that asking was illegal, that he was testing her, and that he was simply trying to determine how badly Natalie wanted to work for the company.

After the interview, Natalie contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission because she felt she had been discriminated against based on her age – which is contrary to section 16(1) of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

An intake consultant with the Commission contacted the company and left a message requesting to speak to the manager. The owner of the company called back and apologized on behalf of the manager. The owner also informed the intake consultant that although he had gone over guidelines with the manager, the manager did not have a lot of experience conducting interviews.

To help remedy the situation, the intake consultant offered to send the owner an information sheet pertaining to human rights, job interviews, and applications. The owner was very receptive and said he would share the information sheet with all employees who conduct job interviews.

After the phone interview, Natalie was no longer interested in working for the company. She did not pursue her complaint, but was pleased that the company had taken steps to see that the same error would not happen again.

*Names have been changed.

Resolution reached for employee with disability
December 7, 2018

Albert* has epilepsy. Last year, he had brain surgery to help alleviate seizures. As a result of the operation, stressful situations can trigger behavioural issues, such as anger, in Albert.

The company Albert works for is aware of both the surgery and the chance of behavioural issues.

One day, a situation occurred at work that triggered Albert’s disability and caused an outburst. Fearful of Albert’s behavior and how it might affect customers, Albert’s manager sent him home and suggested he see a doctor.

Albert did as he was told. He also provided his employer with periodic medical updates, but was not returned to work.

Albert contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. He believed his employer, had discriminated against him on the basis of disability, contrary to Section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

With Albert’s permission, an intake consultant with the Commission contacted Albert’s manager. The manager forwarded the matter to the company’s lawyers who, after reviewing the matter, said that the company was prepared to reasonably accommodate Albert back to work and would reinstate Albert’s insurance benefits (which had lapsed during his absence from work).

Albert was satisfied with this resolution and withdrew his complaint.

*Names have been changed.

Settlement reached in accommodation case
November 23, 2018

Alice* had worked with the same company for five years.

One day she was injured in a car accident. As a result of this injury, Alice was not permitted to drive more than 20 minutes at a time. This restriction proved burdensome as she commuted to work from a neighbouring city approximately an hour away. To compound problems, not long after the accident, Alice’s work duties changed significantly. The changes at work and the commute exacerbated Alice’s medical condition.

Alice asked the company to accommodate her by relocating her to the company location in her home city. The company informed Alice that there were no vacancies or meaningful work for her at that office, and suggested that she rest every 20 minutes during her commute or try carpooling to work.

Alice eventually took a medical leave from work.

When she was ready to return to work, Alice’s surgeon provided a note saying she was capable of working again, although she was not fully recovered. The doctor suggested that Alice’s employer accommodate her continuing restrictions by transferring her from the company’s main office to the office nearest Alice’s home.

The employer offered to return Alice to her original position in the main office.

As a result of everything that occurred, Alice filed a human rights complaint. She believed that her employer refused to accommodate to the point of undue hardship and, thereby, discriminated against her on the basis of disability, contrary to Section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved during investigation. The company agreed to pay compensation to Alice for damage to dignity, Alice gave up her job at the main office, and Alice was placed on a re-employment list for the office nearest Alice’s home at her request.

It is important to note that in this case, there was no legal determination that the company had discriminated against Alice. The parties reached a resolution of their own making. In many instances, parties come to agreements or resolutions of their own accord without the need for intervention by the Court.

*Names have been changed.

Gender discrimination and sexual harassment case settled after investigation
November 16, 2018

Mary* was hired by a local company as a scientist. She was one of only two women working in her department.

Mary observed her male coworkers making inappropriate sexual comments about women in relation to advertising material they prepared. She also became aware of a system the men used for rating attractive women at trade shows and observed them putting the system to use in her presence.

This made Mary feel uncomfortable. When she raised her concerns with her boss, her concerns were dismissed.

During her employment, Mary also felt demeaned at times and treated differently because of her gender. For example, once, when she was injured and struggling with certain physical aspects of her job, one of her male coworkers told Mary that she was “worthless.” Another time, during a disagreement with her boss, Mary was told “not to play the victim” when she became upset and started to cry.

What’s more, when the office’s administrative assistant was away due to sickness, Mary was singled out, despite the fact she was hired as a scientist, to cover the phones and take orders. Even though all the members of her department were cross-trained to take calls and fill sale orders, no male colleagues were asked to help out. When Mary suggested that the phone duties should be shared equally by all employees, her boss told her she was being insubordinate.

Eventually the environment at her workplace became too much to bear so Mary filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. She believed the company had discriminated against her on the basis of gender and had allowed her to be sexually harassed in the workplace, contrary to Section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was settled at the end of investigation. Mary received a monetary compensation for damage to dignity and a letter of referral from her employer.

Employers have a positive duty to treat all employees in a non-discriminatory way. When an employer learns that there are allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, the employer has a positive duty to investigate and to take steps to eliminate any discriminatory behavior.

*Names have been changed.

Injured employee awarded compensation for damage to dignity
November 9, 2018

Larry* had been employed by the same organization for more than a decade. Primarily he worked as a security guard, but over the years he had held a number of different positions.

One day, Larry suffered a workplace injury that required surgery. As a result of this injury, Larry was left permanently disabled and, for a period of time, unable to work. After a year or so, Larry informed his employer that he was ready and able to work again, albeit with restrictions. The employer told Larry that some benefits would no longer be available to him and that he would have to identify and apply for postings within the organization on his own – which, prior to his injury, was not the case.

Feeling slighted, Larry contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. He believed his employer refused to accommodate him to the point of undue hardship and, thus, had discriminated against him on the basis of disability, contrary to Section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The matter was resolved during investigation of the complaint. The organization agreed to pay compensation to Larry for damage to dignity. It also agreed to provide a letter of work reference for Larry and, should it be contacted in the future by another company to which Larry was applying for a job, the employer agreed not to mention the human rights complaint that Larry had made.

*Names have been changed.

Quick resolution for cashier with disability
November 2, 2018

John* is a cashier who has Cerebral Palsy. He enjoys the work he does, but there was a problem.

John called the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and informed an intake consultant that people at work make fun of his disability. They call him names that leave John feeling bullied and embarrassed. Recently, John took a two-week medical leave from work. When he returned, John was told that his work hours were cut by half, reducing his usual 30 hours a week to 15 hours a week.

John felt his employer was trying to get rid of him because of his Cerebral Palsy, which, if true, would constitute discrimination on the basis of disability, contrary to section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

With John’s permission, the intake consultant who first spoke to John contacted the manager of the company where John works. The manager explained that John had been hired on a part-time basis and that hours were not guaranteed. However, the manager said he would work to resolve the problem.

As part of the resolution, John was reinstated to his prior work schedule and the manager offered to talk to the rest of the staff about harassment and discrimination in the workplace. When told about this, John was satisfied and the case was closed.

The resolution took two days to achieve.

*Names have been changed.

High blood pressure matter resolved during investigation
October 26, 2018

Matt* works as a scaffolder.

As part of his company’s Occupational Health and Safety process, Matt and other employees were required to have their blood pressure tested. The test was mandatory so they could undergo training to use a supplied air respirator – a mask required in certain areas of work where employees are exposed to dangerous gases.

The test detected that Matt had high blood pressure and, as a result, could not safely wear the mask.

Disappointed but not to be deterred, Matt informed the company he would see a doctor and begin treatment for his high blood pressure. Before he had an opportunity to seek treatment, however, the company informed Matt that he was being let go because he could not fulfill the duties of his position.

Matt believed the company had discriminated against him on the basis of disability because they terminated his employment and failed to accommodate him to the point of undue hardship – contrary to Section 16 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

He filed a complaint with the Commission.

During investigation, the matter was resolved. The company offered to pay compensation to Matt for damage to dignity. Matt accepted the company’s offer and did not return to work at that company.

It is important to note that employers have a duty to make reasonable efforts to assist employees who could otherwise be denied opportunities because of gender, disability, religion, or other illegal grounds of discrimination. This is called the “duty to accommodate.”

Accommodation is required unless it would cause an undue hardship.

Where an employer has not accommodated an employee, and a complaint has been filed, that employer may be expected to compensate the employee for any losses, pay a sum in recognition of damage to dignity, and/or reinstate that employee in their previous position.

*Names have been changed.

Employer agrees to accommodate upset employee
October 19, 2018

Melissa* called the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission in tears.

She works as a care provider and felt that her employer had not been treating her fairly. Melissa told an SHRC intake consultant that she is a recovering alcoholic and, because of her addiction, suffers from insomnia. She had asked her employer if she could change her shift hours to accommodate her condition, but the employer refused because Melissa had been late for work and was argumentative with her supervisor.

Melissa felt her employer did not understand her addiction.

In some cases, an employee who is using alcohol inappropriately is addicted, and this addiction may be classified as a disability. As with other disabilities, employees who suffer alcoholism may need to be accommodated. As such, an employer should seek to gather more information from the employee before making the decision to terminate the employment relationship.

A Commission intake consultant contacted Melissa’s supervisor to talk about disability and duty to accommodate. The supervisor explained that the employer had been accommodating Melissa for the past three years — even though she had never provided any medical note to support work restrictions. The intake consultant recommended to Melissa that she seek medical advice for her insomnia and alcoholism, and to provide her employer with clear instructions about any medical restrictions and accommodation needs.

The intake consultant also asked the supervisor to speak with Melissa to try to work out a more accommodating schedule. The supervisor did as requested. Together, Melissa and her supervisor were able to change Melissa’s shift start times.

Melissa was happy with this outcome and the file was closed.

The case took two days to resolve.

*Names have been changed.

Duty to accommodate issue resolved
October 12, 2018

Jacqueline* works as a cashier at a grocery store. Earlier this year, Jacqueline was on her way to work when she fell and tore her rotator cuff.

For the next few weeks Jacqueline continued to go to work as usual. Her condition worsened, however, and so she went to see a doctor. The doctor initiated a Workers’ Compensation Board claim. Jacqueline began seeing a physiotherapist, who advised her against lifting anything over 10 pounds.

As a cashier, this restriction should not have affected her work. However, after learning that Jacqueline was advised to not lift anything more than 10 pounds, her employer cut back her shifts and began asking Jacqueline to perform duties at work that exceeded her job description and her physical capabilities.

Upset, Jacqueline contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission because she felt her employer was refusing to accommodate her.

The intake consultant who fielded the call contacted the employer and explained how and why they had a duty to accommodate.

Soon Jacqueline was on the mend, but she was still having difficulty convincing her employer to return her to her normal schedule.

The intake consultant advised Jacqueline to provide her employer with updated medical restrictions from her doctor. She did. Within a couple of days of this update, Jacqueline was returned to her full-time work schedule.

Her employer also agreed to accommodate and work with Jacqueline. To ensure her employer was able to do this properly and effectively , Jacqueline agreed to provide periodic future medical updates.

For more information about Duty to Accommodate, visit: https://saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SHRCemploymentdiscrimination.pdf

*Names have been changed.

Parking situation resolved with city
October 5, 2018

Gail* lives on a cul-de-sac near a local high school. It is a lovely neighborhood, but the cul-de-sac is very narrow and on school days it tends to be jammed with student vehicles. This poses a safety concern for Gail because she is blind. There are no sidewalks for her, or anyone else, to safely use. People are forced to walk on the street amongst moving vehicles. This poses a serious concern for everyone, especially children and people with disabilities. The problem is further complicated in winter when space is further limited — if available at all.

Initially, Gail phoned City Hall to see what could be done to remedy the situation, but no action was taken. So she contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

An intake consultant received her call and contacted City Hall on Gail’s behalf. The intake consultant explained the nature of the complaint to an employee at the city’s customer service line and suggested some possible solutions that had been previously discussed with Gail. These solutions included: sidewalks, bike lanes, posted parking signs, etc.

Early the following week, a representative from the city’s zoning department called Gail. The city representative was surprised so many people were parking on her street. He informed Gail that for various reasons — the narrowness of the street, underground utility lines, issues relating to personal resident property lines, and the cul-de-sac nature of the street — city bylaws would not allow for sidewalks. However, all was not lost. The most reasonable and feasible thing to do was for the city to implement parking restrictions on both sides of the street.

Gail was pleased with this solution. She was also happy to hear the city intended to put up parking signage within 1-3 months. They are hoping to have it done before winter arrives.

This situation was resolved in the pre-complaint stage of the SHRC’s resolution process. It took 25 days.

For more information about the SHRC’s complaint process, please visit: https://saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/filing-a-complaint/

*Names have been changed.

Swift resolution in beauty salon case
September 28, 2018

One day, Mike* and his wife Katie* went to a beauty salon to get their eyebrows threaded — a hair removal technique involving the use of a thin cotton or polyester thread.

Katie had her eyebrows done first. When her threading was finished, she told an employee at the salon that her husband wanted his eyebrows done too and asked to have both services put on the same bill.

The employee then informed Katie that the salon didn’t do men’s eyebrows. This caught both Katie and Mike off guard, and they left the salon.

Later, at home, they called the salon to address the issue. When they didn’t receive a reply, Katie contacted the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission believing the salon’s actions constituted discrimination on the basis of sex, contrary to section 12 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

An intake consultant spoke to both the salon owner and to Katie, detailing the Commission’s resolution process and explaining how a situation like this might benefit from the SHRC’s pre-complaint process.

Being relatively new to Canada, the salon owner admitted he was not fully knowledgeable about our province’s laws and expressed the desire to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. He offered an apology, a $150 gift certificate, and invited Katie and Mike back to his salon for a better experience.

Katie and Mike were happy with this.

The complaint was resolved by the Commission in less than 24 hours.

*Names have been changed.

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

*Names have been changed.

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: https://saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/education-resources/policies-guidelines/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: https://saskatchewanhumanrights.ca/education-resources/policies-guidelines/policy-on-service-animals/

*Names have been changed.