Black Educators Association discriminated against employee: Human rights board

Nova Scotia worker awarded $11,000 due to 'colourist thinking'

A former employee of the Black Educators Association has been awarded $11,000 in general damages and lost income by a Nova Scotia human rights board of inquiry.

Rachel Brothers claimed the association wrongfully fired her because of discrimination based on age, race and colour, according to a new release posted by the province’s Human Rights Commission. Brothers had been in her position for nearly one year when she was terminated.

The board said Brothers was undermined by association staff whose “colourist thinking” and behaviour created a toxic work environment at the head office in Halifax and the Annapolis Valley regional office in Kentville, where she was employed as a regional educator.

“It is suggested by colourist thinking that the closer one’s skin tone is to that of a pure white, the better access one will have to the jobs and accommodation and opportunities available to actual ‘white’ people,” said Don Murray of the board of inquiry. “At the same time, colourist thinking suggests that the more visibly black, or more visibly East Indian, or more visibly American Indian, or more visibly Asian one is, the greater potential there will be for discriminatory distinctions to be made based on ‘colour.’”

Tracy Williams, CEO of the Human Rights Commission, said the decision addresses important human rights issues.

“The commission needs to explore this sensitive subject to better understand its impact and identify ways we can be of assistance,” she said.

The Black Educators Association was formed in 1969 to help African Nova Scotian communities develop strategies toward an equitable education system.

Latest stories