Monday, September 6, 2010

An Absurdly Long 'Human Rights' Timeline

I've heard about a case dragging on forever. It's a fictional one, though, in Dickens's novel Bleak House. Here's a real one for the record books--an Alberta "human rights" case that began in 1991 and has dragged on until now:
This is a resumption of the hearing into the human rights complaints of Ms. Delorie Walsh versus Mobil Oil Canada (Mobil) which was held September 28-30, and October 21, 2005.


On December 16, 2005, this Panel (now referred to as Tribunal) released its decision on the merits of the two complaints filed by Ms. Walsh against Mobil. As agreed by the parties prior to the start of this hearing, evidence related to remedy would be heard at a later date.


On the first complaint filed August 14, 1991, the Panel found that Ms. Walsh was discriminated against based on her gender between August 1990 and August 1991, contrary to the equal pay and terms of conditions of employment provisions of s. 6 and 7 of the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act (now the Alberta Human Rights Act) (the Act).1


On the second complaint filed on August 15, 1995, the Panel found that Mobil did not retaliate against Ms. Walsh for filing a human rights complaint.


Ms. Walsh appealed the Panel’s decision to the Court of Queen’s Bench. This appeal was heard February 1, 2007 and a decision was rendered on May 11, 2007.


The Court of Queen’s Bench decision concluded that Ms. Walsh was entitled to any loss arising out of the discriminatory conduct found by the Panel and amplified by this decision for the period of two years before the complaint was filed up until the time her employment ended.


The Court also overturned the Panel’s decision regarding retaliation.


Mobil appealed this decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal. The appeal was heard March 14, 2008 and a decision was rendered on August 5, 2008.


The appeal was dismissed with respect to the substantive issues of discrimination based on gender and retaliation and was allowed with respect to the issues of damage directives and solicitor-client costs.


The matter was remitted back to this Tribunal to proceed with the remedy hearing. This hearing was held May 10, 11, 12, 13, 31, June 1 and 2, 2010.
And after all that, was it worth it? Hell, yes, since the complainant was awarded "$472,766 for loss of income for the period August 14,1989 to December 31, 2000." No skin off her nose, eh?, because, from one decade to the next, she didn't have to pay a single penny in legal fees (they were picked up by Alberta taxpayers). Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what kind of legal fees this rigamorole cost the target of her complaint? Or are we supposed not to care because, after all, it was an ee-ville, vindictive capitalistic oil company that deserved what it got?

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