The Petitioner, a School Board, succeeded in its application to quash a decision of a BC Human Rights Tribunal, allowing a student’s complaint of discrimination against it

25. February 2003 0

Administrative law – Schools – Human rights complaints – Discrimination – Sexual orientation – Judicial review – Standard of review – Correctness

North Vancouver School District No. 44 v. Jubran, [2003] B.C.J. No. 10, British Columbia Supreme Court, January 2, 2003, Stewart, J.

Jubran, a high school student, filed a complaint of discrimination against School District No. 44 (North Vancouver) with the Human Rights Commission. A Human Rights Tribunal found that the student was not a homosexual, and that the students that tormented him did not think he was a homosexual. The Tribunal held that the School Board breached s. 8 of the Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.210, by failing to provide a learning environment free from discrimination. Section 8 of the Code provides that a person must not discriminate against a person or class of persons because of the sexual orientation of that person or class of persons. As well, it was held that the School Board failed to establish a “bona fide and reasonable justification” within the meaning of s. 8.

The School Board sought judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision. The court allowed the application. It was held that the matter was outside the scope of s. 8 of the Human Rights Code, and therefore, the decision must be quashed.

The court held that the Tribunal proceeded on the basis that even if it accepted as a fact that the students who attacked Jubran did not believe that he was a homosexual, their conduct fell within the ambit of s. 8. The court found that the standard of review on a question of law of a general nature, such as the matter before it, is “correctness”. The court adverted to the fact that a broad, liberal and purposive approach is appropriate to human rights legislation, and that such legislation must be interpreted so as to advance the broad policy considerations underlying it.

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