The Retail Action Network (RAN) is intervening in the appeal of a human rights case in the Supreme Court of Canada. Schrenk v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal) is about the extent to which the BC Human Rights Code (“the Code”) applies to discriminatory harassment in the workplace. BCPIAC has teamed up with Catherine Boies-Parker and Robin Gage, from Underhill, Boies-Parker, Gage and Latimer LLP, to represent RAN in this intervention.
In the decision on appeal, the BC Court of Appeal held that the Code only applies to situations of harassment where the harasser is the victim’s workplace superior. Further, the Court of Appeal appeared to roll back the liability of employers for the harassment of their employees while at work.
As an organization that is made up of retail, food service and hospitality workers, RAN brings the perspective of workers who are particularly vulnerable to discriminatory harassment by workplace superiors, as well as co-workers and customers, due to their insecure and precarious working conditions. RAN says that in order for the Code to fulfil its essential purpose of identifying and preventing workplace harassment, it must apply to situations of harassment regardless of the harasser’s position in the workplace’s organizational chart, including where the harasser is a customer. Further, RAN says that employers must be liable for the harassment of their employees because of their overarching responsibility for maintaining a discrimination-free workplace.