Employer ordered to pay $1,000 to student

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal orders company to immediately end hiring policy that favours children of employees

Employers who give preference to students who are children of staff when it comes to filling summer jobs might have to rethink that process in the wake of a recent decision by a provincial tribunal.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a pulp and paper company to pay a student $1,000 because it had a policy that favoured the children of employees.

The tribunal ruled the West Fraser Timber Company, doing business as Eurocan, discriminated against Rachel Thomson, a student at the University of Victoria, because she lacked family connections with the company. The money was “compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”

“Rachel was thrilled,” Suzette Narbonne, the lawyer representing Thomson, told The Province. “(The ruling) will give all students an equal chance at a job and maybe they can get a job on their own merit instead of based on who they are related to.”

About 90 per cent of the summer jobs at Eurocan’s mill in Kitimat, B.C. are reserved for the children of employees.

Tribunal chair Heather MacNaughton ordered the company to stop the policy of giving preference to children of employees immediately. She said the purpose of the B.C. Human Rights Code is to “foster a society in which there are no impediments to full and free participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life of British Columbia.”

She said the hiring policy at Eurocan amounted to such an impediment. Eurocan argued that its policy isn’t discriminatory just because it treats the sons and daughters of employees differently than other students. The company noted that it doesn’t bar applications without a family connection, but gives preference to those that are children of employees.

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