Federal Court of Appeal rules CBSA discriminated against PSAC member Fiona Johnstone by failing to accommodate her family obligations

PSAC is pleased to report that the Federal Court of Appeal has today unanimously upheld the groundbreaking decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The decision found the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) discriminated against PSAC member, Fiona Johnstone by failing to accommodate her family obligations.

Ms Johnstone worked as a Border Services Officer at CBSA, requiring a fixed-shift schedule to arrange for child care. The employer refused to consider her request, given its view that it had no obligation under the Canadian Human Rights Act to accommodate her personal choices around childcare.

PSAC supported Ms Johnstone throughout this lengthy human rights and Federal Court battle.

In upholding the decision of the Tribunal, the Court of Appeal rejected the narrow approach to family status accommodation argued by the government. The Court confirmed that human rights legislation is to be interpreted in a broad and liberal manner and that family status includes child care and other legal family obligations.

The Court emphasized that there should be no hierarchy of rights, such that the test for family status accommodation was more difficult to meet than the other grounds of discrimination. Instead, employers are required to conduct a case-by-case analysis with a view to accommodating the particular needs of individual employees.

PSAC wishes to congratulate Fiona on yet another win in this long legal saga which advances the law for all Canadian workers.

PSAC is particularly pleased that this is a meaningful victory for all working families in Canada.

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May 2, 2014
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