Supreme Court rules in case involving Langley firm

The case involved two people working for separate contractors on a Delta road project.

Discrimination cases in the workplace can invovle more than just superiors and their employees, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in a case that invovled a Langley firm.

The case began on a Delta road improvement project under construction in 2013 and 2014.

Mohammadreza Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul was working as a civil engineer on the site for Surrey-based consulting firm Omega & Associates. Edward Schrenk worked on the same project, but he was a foreman for the Langley-based Clemas Contracting.

According to a Supreme Court summary of the case, Schrenk “made derogatory statements to Mr. Mashgoul and others with respect to Mr. Mashgoul’s place of origin, religion and sexual orientation and sent him derogatory emails.”

Omega & Associates complained to Clemas, and Schrenk was first removed from the worksite, and when the emails continued, fired.

Mashgoul then filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, claiming discrimination in employment by Schrenk.

Schrenk applied to dismiss the complaint, saying that it was not within the bounds of the tribunal’s powers, because there was not an employment relationship between the two men.

The B.C. Court of Appeal agreed with Schrenk, and ruled that the Human Rights Tribunal did not have jurisdiction.

But a majority of Supreme Court justices found for a broader interpretation of the law.

“As the foreman of the worksite, [Schrenk] was an integral and unavoidable part of [Mashgoul’s] work environment,” Justice Malcolm Rowe wrote for the majority. “[Schrenk’s] discriminatory behaviour had a detrimental impact on the workplace because it forced [Mashgoul] to contend with repeated affronts to his dignity.”

Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella wrote a concurring opinion, saying the issue in question was whether employment discrimination under the B.C. Human Rights Code can happen when the harasser has no position of authority over the victim.

In this case, Mashgoul didn’t work for Schrenk, and if anything, Omega had some authority on the project over Clemas Contracting.

Human rights principles suggest that all employees are protected, Abella wrote. “Applying these principles leads to the conclusion that an employee is protected from discrimination related to or associated with his or her employment, whether or not he or she occupies a position of authority.”

Three judges, including Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin dissented. They felt that the Human Rights Code only applies to employer-employee or similar relationships.

“Therefore, the Human Rights Tribunal had no jurisdiction over the complaint,” McLachlin wrote for the minority.

The ruling means the Human Rights Tribunal does have jurisdiction over the case.

Just Posted

With sport, it’s best to start them young

When facing off on the court as teenagers, some players recall starting their career in elementary

Agassiz churches to come together for night of worship

The joint worship night is an attempt to revive an old event in the community

New Chilliwack YMCA was ‘worth the wait’ say visitors

Family Day will mark officially opening for new building, after sneak peek tours on Saturday

More people in Chiliwack coming in to shelters to get out of the cold

Ruth and Naomi’s went over-capacity this week to accommodate shelter guests coming in from the cold

Chilliwack Chiefs visit Kent Elementary

Grade 6 students got a chance to visit with, and play hockey against, some local hockey celebrities

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Stabbing at Lower Mainland banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Most Read