I like the other discrimination test better



August 21, 2013

The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned Court of Appeal has overturned a decision by the Divisional Court

which overturned a race discrimination claim by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the test for finding discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code does not require that the discrimination be intentional.

The Story: The appellants in this case (the complainants at the original Tribunal hearing) entered a courthouse library in which only lawyers and law students were permitted. Two were lawyers and one was a law student. All three of them were black. A librarian approached the applicants and asked them to produce ID, but did not ask anyone else for ID at that time. Jumping to the conclusion that it must be because they are black, the offended complainants quickly brought applications to the Human Rights Tribunal alleging discrimination.

Note: There was no harm done. They were lawyers, they had ID, they were allowed to stay in the lounge. Note as well: it was part of the librarian’s job to make sure that only lawyers and law students entered the library, so when she didn’t recognize them, she asked for ID. Note also: The allegation of racism requires an inquiry into the mind and internal motivations of the librarian – it demands the reading of her thoughts at that time, a rather tricky exercise at the best of times.

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