Employee discriminated against because of family relationships, court rules (Question of Law)

By Jeffrey Miller
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/15/2001

Your brother-in-law is your boss. During therapy, your child recovers a memory that the brother-in-law — the child’s uncle — sexually assaulted her. Your spouse and the child go to the uncle’s home and accuse him of the horrible crime. You stay out of the confrontation and the uncle has no complaints about your work. But the next day, he fires you on the ground that it is untenable for you to work together any longer.

Q Is this reasonable cause for dismissal — an irretrievable breakdown of trust — or is it illegal discrimination based on family status?

A Ontario’s tribunal-reviewing court, the Divisional Court, ruled that there was no human rights breach: The uncle acted against the father as an individual, not as a member of any distinct or disadvantaged group, the court found — not, in other words, because of his role as a family member, per se. The family relation was incidental.