Quebec, Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, Quebec Court of Appeal, Rulings
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Aluminum maker discriminated against students rules Quebec appeal court

Work - Max Larochelle - Unsplash

Students who were paid less than casual and regular workers by an aluminum smelter even though they performed equivalent work were discriminated against on the basis of social condition, held the Quebec Court of Appeal.

In a decision expected to have significant repercussions in the province’s labour landscape, the Quebec Court of Appeal clarified the burden of proof when challenging the discriminatory nature of a measure, held that students fall within the notion of “social condition” under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and confirmed that discriminatory claims under the Quebec Charter do not require additional evidence of discrimination stemming from prejudice, stereotypes or social context, according to experts. Social condition refers to the rank and place an individual occupies in society.

“The decision confirms several principles that were not necessarily clear in Quebec case law,” remarked Christine Campbell, a lawyer with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, who along with her colleague Stéphanie Fournier, successfully plead the case.

According to a labour lawyer who did not want to be identified, the decision is notable because there are few Quebec decision dealing with the status of students.

“The most significant part of the decision is that it recognizes that students fall within the scope of social condition,” said the Quebec labour lawyer. “There’s no doubt many employers will now say that they no longer have the right to hire students at a reduced pay scale. But that’s not what the decision says. The ruling states that you have to pay students the same as regular workers only if they perform equivalent work.”

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This story was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily.

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