Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, February 26, 2018 - A Haitian man is asking questions about the kind of legal protection Black and other victims of race discrimination in employment receive when they file complaints with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

Mr. Jean Charles (not his real name, due to his present job) arrived in Canada from Haïti in 2009. He applied for a position of inspector with the Montreal Transit Authority (STM) in 2010. He passed all selection steps, including the physical and medical tests, but he was told that he had failed the psychological evaluation, which led to the rejection of his application in July 2011. CRARR filed a complaint of race discrimination on his behalf with the Commission, in October 2011.

After the preliminary evaluation of the complaint, a Commission adviser recommended the closing of the file due to insufficient evidence. However, the Complaints Committee, composed of three Commissioners, rejected this recommendation and ordered an investigation, especially concerning the validity of the psychological test conducted by a psychologist external to the STM and that was used to reject Mr. Charles' candidacy.

The investigation report was produced in October 2014. Since then the Commission has remained silent, without any explanation for its inordinate long delay in rendering a decision. Normally, once an investigation is completed, a decision is rendered within six months. In March 2017, in response to a CRARR enquiry on the status of the file, the deputy director of investigation stated that “the file is still under evaluation.”

“A delay of seven years to investigate a complaint, coupled with the Commission's inability to explain this delay or to give a clear date for its decision, can bring the administration of justice into disrepute,” noted CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi. “This is not the first time we see excessive delay in the handling of complaints of racism,” he said, referring to another Commission's decision released in early 2017 on a complaint of racial profiling filed in 2009.

“It is very possible that the Jordan principle and excessive delays be invoked sooner or later by respondent employers to have these cases dismissed, ” stated Niemi, referring to the Supreme Court's decision in the Jordan case that allowed the defense to ask for a stay of criminal proceedings due to unreasonable delays.

“What's more serious is that not only Mr. Charles does not have effective protection against racism in employment, as guaranteed by the Quebec Charter of Rights, but that institutions and employers can feel free to practice race discrimination as they consider the Commission laughable and inoffensive,” Niemi added.

“This is not just about a file and a file number, but about a Black man with his right to employment without discrimination, his right to dignity, and his right to effective and rapid protection”, he noted.

“The silence of elected officials, ministers and even the Bar towards this situation can only show that access to justice for Black and other racialized persons is, in fact, definitely not a priority in Quebec,” he noted.

In the last seven years, the Commission has brought very few employment racism cases before the Human Rights Tribunal.