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Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

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Damages awarded to the mother of a child who was the victim of discrimination

The mother of a child who was the victim of discrimination based on a handicap was awarded $7,500 in moral damages by the Quebec Court of Appeal in a ruling that reaffirms and advances the rights of parents, according to educational and human rights lawyers.

In a closely-watched ruling by the province’s educational sector, the Montreal School Commission was also ordered to pay an equal amount in moral damages to the child, who is afflicted with Down syndrome, after the appeal court found that it discriminated against him when it failed to implement necessary accommodations to teach him in the first two years of high school.

However the appeal court also found that the school commission did not act in a discriminatory manner when it decided that it would be in the best interests of the child, given his special needs, if he pursued his studies in a specialized school rather than a regular school.…

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Montreal’s efforts to shut down religious ceremonies hosted by cultural centre violates Charter

The City of Montreal, one of a growing number of municipalities in Quebec that has attempted to use zoning restrictions to restrict places of worship, acted in bad faith and breached the Charter’s guarantee to freedom of religion when it tried to shut down an Islamic cultural centre that hosted religious ceremonies, ruled Quebec Superior Court.

In a closely-watched decision by municipal and human rights lawyers, Quebec Superior Court Judge Jean-Yves Lalonde castigated the city for implementing a zoning by-law that “would promote a phenomenon of ghettoization, access problems and appears to be discriminatory compared to the Catholic churches in the borough that are generally found in the residential sector in the City of Montreal.”…

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Quebec court rules that religious marriages do not necessarily carry any legal obligations

A controversial Quebec Superior Court decision that ruled that religious marriages do not necessarily carry any legal obligations under civil law may have alarming and sweeping consequences, according to family law experts.

The “disturbing” ruling creates a new category of civil status in Quebec, undermines long-held views of religious marriages, and will possibly expose women to vulnerable situations where they will be pressured into celebrating a religious marriage without the protection afforded by civil law, cautioned family lawyers.…

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Quebec Charter imposes duty to accommodate, rules appeal court

A precedent-setting ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal that amended the provincial law governing an employers’ duty to accommodate employees with workplace injuries will compel employers, unions, workers, and the Quebec worker’s compensation board to review the way they manage employment injury cases, according to employment and labour lawyers.

In light of Supreme Court of Canada rulings regarding reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities, the Quebec Court of Appeal held that the rehabilitative process contemplated by the Quebec Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational injuries (ARIAOD) does not relieve employers of their duty to accommodate under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

“This ruling helps to ensure the progress of labour rights,” remarked Sophie Cloutier, a Quebec City labour lawyer.…

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Tobacco companies do not have to pay initial $1.13 billion in tobacco class action suit

Three Canadian tobacco companies will not have to make an immediate $1.13 billion payment to Quebec smokers who won a landmark class action suit after the Quebec Court of Appeal held that the justification for the provisional execution is weak, the prejudice to the firms serious, and that the balance of convenience weighs in their favour.

An initial payment of $1.13 billion was due this weekend after Quebec Superior Justice Brian Riordan held in Létourneau c. JTI-MacDonald Corp., 2015 QCCS 2382 that it was “high time that the companies started to pay for their sins” and “high time” for the plaintiffs and their lawyers to receive some relief from the “gargantuan” financial burden of bringing the tobacco companies to justice.

But the three-judge appeal court panel found that the existence of those “sins” is sub judice, or under judicial consideration, by the Court of Appeal, and therefore this “weakness in the order behooves our intervention.”…

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Quebec Court of Appeal overturns discrimination case

In a ruling that took human rights lawyers by surprise the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a discrimination case against aeronautics multinational Bombardier Inc. after holding that there was no evidence that a Canadian pilot of Pakistani origin was a victim of ethnic discrimination.

The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, in a precedent-setting ruling that held that Quebec human rights laws prevail over American anti-terrorism efforts in Canada, ordered the Montreal-based firm three years ago to pay Javed Latif $319,000 in damages after it found that the pilot’s human rights were violated when Bombardier barred him from flight training at a Montreal facility because U.S. authorities had designated him a security threat. The Tribunal also ordered Bombardier to cease respecting U.S. national security decisions when pilots are seeking flight training under Canadian licences.

But in a unanimous 40-page facts-specific decision that reviewed the evidence of the case, the Quebec Court of Appeal took issue with the fact that the Tribunal based its decision almost entirely on an expert report.…

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Mandatory retirement age for municipal judges not discriminatory

Two municipal judges who sought to stay on the bench beyond the retirement age of 70 lost their legal battle after Quebec Superior Court held that a mandatory retirement age for provincially-nominated magistrates is not discriminatory and is necessary to preserve judicial independence.

But the ruling has not settled the issue of mandatory retirement age for provincially-nominated judges, according to Gérald Tremblay, former batonnier of the Quebec law society. Seven years ago, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that a law forcing justices of the peace in the province to retire at the age of 70 was a violation of equality rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Strathy, now Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, substituted – or “read in” – new provisions that allow justices of the peace to keep working until age 75, subject to the annual approval of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, even though the official retirement age is 65.…

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Blind man wins discrimination case

A now-defunct Montreal nightclub was ordered to pay $2,500 in moral damages to a blind man for refusing to grant him and his guide dog access to the dance floor, following a ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal that raises the bar for business to accommodate disabled people.

In a majority decision that demonstrates yet again the appeal court’s penchant to overturn rulings by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, the appellate court held that Simon Beauregard was a victim of discrimination because the nightclub did not take reasonable efforts to accommodate him.

“The principles that emerges from this ruling is that it will take extremely serious reasons to refuse to accommodate someone so in one sense one can rejoice but what preoccupies me is that the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal does not appear to benefit from a minimal amount of deference by the appeal court,” remarked law professor Christian Brunelle.…

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Quebec court authorizes privacy class action against Apple

A privacy class action suit launched by a software engineer against Apple Inc. and Apple Canada Inc. was granted authorization by Quebec Superior Court late last month.

Gad Albilia alleges that Canadian residents who purchased an iPhone or iPad and who downloaded free software applications from the Apple’s virtual App store onto their devices have had their privacy rights infringed. He claims that personal identifiable information was collected through the apps and was transmitted, without the knowledge or permission of class members, to third-parties for purposes “wholly unrelated to the use and functionality of their iDevices or the apps.”…

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Former lawyer ordered to pay $77,000 in damages

A former lawyer and her companion who made the lives of their neighbours so miserable that they fled to Alberta before even selling their home have been ordered to pay more than $77,000 in damages by Quebec Superior Court recently.

Sonia Desrosiers, a lawyer no longer enrolled in the Barreau du Québec, and Renée Jetté lodged or penned during a three-year stretch no less than 22 "malicious" complaints and demand letters against their neighbours before the provincial police, fire department, municipality, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

"The defendants have in a well-thought-out manner planned and repeatedly committed different acts with the intention of harming the applicants," said Judge Charles Ouellet in a 15-page ruling.…

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