An employee (“Ramsay”) of the City of Charlottetown (the “City”) brought an application for judicial review of a decision of the PEI Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) dismissing his complaint that he had been discriminated against based on his political beliefs and disability. The application was dismissed.

23. December 2014 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Human Rights Commission – Human rights complaints – Discrimination – Disability – Duty to accommodate – Investigations – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness – Witnesses – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Ramsay v. Prince Edward Island (Human Rights Commission), [2014] P.E.I.J. No. 41, 2014 PESC 27, Prince Edward Island Supreme Court, October 24, 2014, N.L. Key J.

Ramsay abandoned his claim of political discrimination early in the judicial review hearing.

Ramsay had been a seasonal employee of the City, subject to lay off between January and August each year from 2006 onward. In 2010, a few weeks into work, Ramsay produced a doctor’s note indicating that he was unable to work. He was put on sick leave. During his absence, he ran in the Charlottetown municipal election. In January 2011, Ramsay indicated he was ready to return to work. He was rehired in August 2011, and then again in 2012 and 2013.

He complained to the Commission, saying that the City did not allow him to return to work in early 2011 when he was able, and that the failure to accommodate him constituted discrimination. Ramsay sought 11 weeks wages as compensation, as well as punitive damages. The Commission, through its Executive Director, dismissed the complaint as being without merit, as permitted by s.22 of the Act.

The Court reviewed the Commission’s decision on a reasonableness standard. The decision was found to be reasonable, with clear reasons given for the decision, and an outcome that fell within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes.

The Human Rights process was found to be procedurally fair, even though the Executive Director did not interview the witnesses suggested by Mr. Ramsay, or Mr. Ramsay himself. The Court is not to question how an investigation is carried out. The investigation demonstrated that Ramsay had failed to meet the prima facie case for discrimination, and the complaint was dismissed.

The application for judicial review was dismissed with modest costs awarded against Ramsay.

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