Human rights briefs (June 18, 2001)

BELL GOT FAIR HEARING IN PAY EQUITY CASE
Ottawa — Bell Canada has lost the latest round in a bitter pay-equity dispute. On appeal, the Federal Court of Canada has ruled that the tribunal hearing the pay equity dispute involving Bell was independent and impartial, despite an earlier ruling to the contrary. The decision represents a defeat for Bell after an earlier decision that Bell could not get a fair hearing at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal because the body was not independent or impartial. Bell has already offered to settle the dispute for $60-million in 1999, but that offer was rejected. The unions, which include the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and the Canadian Telephone Employees Association, are looking for $150-million.

DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO
Ottawa — Former speaker of the House of Commons, Gilbert Parent, claims laws to protect employees from discrimination should not apply to Parliament. Satnam Vaid filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1997 claiming Parent discriminated against him because of his East Indian origin, removing him from his duties as driver for Parent and asking him to instead wash dishes. But Parent believes privileges enshrined in the constitution to ensure the independence of the House of Parliament from the judiciary give members of Parliament the right to appoint and manage its staff, and the CHRC cannot trump that.

SCOOP THIS
Montreal — A television reporter for Global TV claims she was fired earlier this year for becoming pregnant and is taking her case to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Colleen Thorpe says she is being discriminated against because just nine days after telling management she was pregnant with twins she was informed her contract would not be renewed. Thorpe covered Quebec for Global TV news for five years and she claims that with a record as good as hers, there is no other explanation for not picking up her contract. The company called the move a “business decision.”

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