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MONTREAL, February 9, 2006 --- Some 40 young employees of the Security Department at the City of Montreal are victims of discrimination based on age as a result of a “grandfather” clause in a collective agreement and may not have any justice before 2007.

At a press conference held today to denounce discrimimation in their employment at the City, these employees, aged between 25 and 35, denounced article 19.03 of the agreement. This article states that when two or more employees have the same seniority date, the determining factor is the date of birth. Previously, the determining factor was the lowest badge number.

The collective agreement was imposed by an arbitrator in October 2004 and was challenged by the union of blue-collar workers of Montreal before the courts. Last month, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the agreement and its application on the City until 2007.

This means that younger employees who lost their seniority, work hours, salaries and opportunities for advancement to other positions must rely on the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to protect their rights.

On average, a discriminated security officer loses between one and four hours of work on a 36-hour weekly schedule, or the equivalent of between $19.87 and $79.48 per week. This is without taking into account social benefits and lost wages he or she would have earned had he or she been able to move to higher paid positions. In one year, this discriminatory clause costs each employee between $1,033 and $4,133 in salaries.

Since the coming into force of the discriminatory clause on December 2004 and the filing of their civil rights complaints in March 2005, the Commission has acted very slowly. Recently, it raised the possibility of closing the file if ever the Court of Appeal ruled favorably on the legality of the agreement.

Many communications have taken place between CRARR and the Commission since June 2005, without results. Now that the Court of Appeal has ruled, these victims of discrimination are caught in a situation that will last for another two years, during which they will continue to face financial losses as well as serious obstacles to their careers.

According to CRARR’s Civil Rights Advocate Aymar Missakila, the Commission should have acted more rapidly since this case of discrimination is similar to the one experienced by 12,000 young teachers and their court challenge of the collective agreement with the Quebec Government that has been going on for more than seven years.

CRARR has already suggested that the Commission go to court to declare article 19.03 discriminatory and contrary to the Quebec and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The City of Montreal cannot proclaim that it practices employment equity while it practices discrimination based on age against its young employees and invests important resources to defend itself before the human rights commission”, stated Mr. Missakila.

“If we value youth and the notion of equality, it is absolute necessary to remove this discriminatory clause, correct the situation and quickly compensate affected employees”, he concluded.