...You don't have to be a provocative journalist or even a publisher to feel the sting of a human rights action. Nor do you have to be an edgy comedian like Guy Earle, who is currently in the news because of a complaint filed against him and the (now defunct) comedy club he worked at for a heckling incident with a patron. You don't even have to be an airline trying to accommodate a passenger who takes up two seats on a plane where one is the norm.
Human rights actions aren't just for the front pages of the newspaper any more. Actions under human rights codes across Canada are a force to be reckoned with. If the BC Human Rights Tribunal is any guide, all you have to do is fire an employee who is absent from work for an extended period of time due to a medical disability by email and you could find yourself paying damages of $35,000 (not including legal fees) for “hurt feelings” because the employee was not terminated in person.
This is why actions under human rights codes are no longer the domain of journalists, comedians and interest groups with an axe to grind. If your business has employees, you have to be just as concerned about a human rights complaint being filed against you as a wrongful dismissal action.
Most claims under human rights legislation are actually made by employees against their employers for something that may have arisen during the course of their employment or at the time they're terminated. The claim will normally be that an employer discriminated against an employee due to the employee's sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, political or religious beliefs, marital or family status, physical or mental disability, place of origin or age, because these are the grounds cited in most human rights codes in Canada. And employers have to realize that conditions such as depression can be a disability. But note that each act in Canada differs in terms of the “prohibited” grounds of discrimination...You mean to say that the acts can't even get their act together? (Ba dum bum.) No wonder defunct comedy club owners are having such a tough time. Not only is the poor shlub trying to keep life and limb together in perilous economic times, he also has to worry that, should he say or do something "offensive," something that might "hurt" someone's "feelings" or tamper with someone's precious and inviolable "self esteem," he's likely to get his sorry butt hauled in front of a "human rights" marsupial. And then it's "say goodnight, Gracie" to your comedy biz.
Seems to me the way it works is that the "vulnerable" have been handed all the power, and the "powerful" who have been rendered vulnerable. It may be high time to rewrite all the various acts so they reflect the widespread--indeed, systemic--victimization of the newest victim group: employers.