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

PHOTO: Add flavour to your weekend with the Chilliwack Garlic Festival

The annual garlicky event runs Saturday and Sunday at Fantasy Farms

Fleeing helicopter that landed in Chilliwack part of major cross-border drug bust: documents

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

UPDATE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk had severe dementia

VIDEO: B.C. Mountie killed by drunk driver honoured by memorial playground

Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens with ceremony in Langford

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Border crossings across Lower Mainland seeing lengthy delays

Sumas, Peace Arch and Surrey-Blaine border crossings seeing long wait times

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Most Read