DISCRIMINATED JEWISH EMPLOYEE'S CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN LIMBO AFTER FIVE MONTHS
Montreal, April 1st, 2016 — A Jewish hairstylist, whose complaint of discrimination was upheld by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission last October, is still waiting for his case to be brought by the Commission before the Human Rights Tribunal.
Mr. Richard Zilberg worked for Spa Orazen (now Spa Liv Zen) from October 2011 to August 2012. He was forbidden from working on Saturdays by his Jewish employer, because of Shabbat, and fired for speaking to clients about it.
After 3 years of handling his complaint of religious discrimination, which CRARR had filed on his behalf, the Commission ruled in his favor in October 2015 and recommended that Mr. Zilberg be compensated $20,000 in damages from Spa Orazen and its principal owner, for material damages of loss of income and other hardship, moral damages and punitive damages for intentional violation of his civil rights.
The respondents were given the deadline of October 23, 2015 to comply and pay Mr. Zilberg, which they failed to do so. Normally in cases of non-compliance, the Commission brings the file to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal within a month or two.
In early January 2016, CRARR addressed a letter to Commission Chairman Jacques Frémont to enquire about the status of the file and was informed that the lawyer in charge would follow up “in a few weeks.” As of March 21st, there was still no motion filed by the Commission before the Tribunal. CRARR sent another letter of enquiry to Chairman Frémont. After two weeks, CRARR has yet to receive a response.
“I hope the Commission will take my case to the Human Rights Tribunal before it's too late, since it can take many more months to get a hearing,” said Mr. Zilberg.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he added. “At this rate, I will not get a hearing before September 2016 - four years after being fired, and a decision, in 2017!”
“In our years of civil rights work, we have never seen this kind of prolonged delay, which is quite worrisome because employers and other institutional respondents will no longer take the Commission seriously. We dare hope that the delay is mainly due to the government's austerity measures,” added CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.