The Appellant, Campbell, initiated an unsuccessful human rights complaint on the basis that her employer, the Canada Revenue Agency (“the CRA”), had discriminated against her on the basis of her disability

23. February 2010 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Human Rights Commission – Human rights complaints – Discrimination – Disability – Harassment – Investigations – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness

Campbell v. Canada (Attorney General), [2009] F.C.J. No. 1603, 2009 FC 1252, Federal Court, December 8, 2009, Harrington J.

Campbell suffered from back pain which interfered with some of the physical demands of her job. The CRA conducted an ergonomics assessment, which resulted in a recommendation that Campbell be provided with a special chair, footstool, and an electric sit / stand height adjustable work surface which would allow her to alternate working in a sitting or standing position. A proper electric sit / stand workstation was not available, and so the ergonomist recommended two different workstations at different heights. A standing table was placed in a hallway close to Campbell’s workstation. It had the appearance of a bar, which led to jokes from coworkers. Campbell alleged that these jokes caused her to feel humiliated. She also alleged that she was not offered a full time contract on the basis of her disability.

An investigator appointed by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (“the CHRC”) conducted an investigation. This investigation consisted of a brief interview with Campbell, as well as an interview with her team leader and supervisor. The investigator also reviewed some e-mail evidence. The investigator concluded that the teasing by the coworkers did not constitute harassment. The investigator also found that Campbell was not offered a full time contract because there were other more qualified applicants, not because she suffered from a disability. The investigator’s report was accepted by the CHRC and the complaint dismissed.

Campbell appealed on the basis that the investigation conducted by the CHRC was not thorough and that the investigator should have personally interviewed Campbell’s coworkers. Mr. Justice Harrington disagreed. He held that there was no lack of procedural fairness and that distinguished Grover v. Canada (National Research Council), 2001 FCT 687 where the investigation was found to be insufficient because a key witness was not interviewed.

Harrington J. also agreed with the investigator’s conclusion that teasing engaged in by the coworkers did not constitute harassment. The test for harassment is objective, and it was found not to be reasonable that a person would be humiliated by being called a bartender.

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