Some cases involving racial discrimination

Examples of racism in Alberta are seen in some reports of cases brought under the province’s human rights legislation or in grievance arbitration awards.

Refusal of service

Weaselfat v Driscoll (April 1972, Alta. Bd. Inq.)
The complaint was that the proprietor of a gas station discriminated on the basis of race by requiring only Indigenous customers to pay for their gas before being served. The Board of Inquiry upheld the complaint and recommended the publication of the outcome of the inquiry be published in the media, and that the Human Rights Commission write the proprietor a letter that he desist from further discrimination and that his failure to comply would result in prosecution.

Refusals of entry to a bar or nightclub based on race:

  • Simpson v. Oil City Hospitality Inc., 2012 AHRC 8 (CanLII): complaint upheld.
  • Randhawa v. Tequila Bar & Grill Ltd., 2008 AHRC 3 (CanLII): complaint upheld.
  • Alibhai v. Tequila Bar & Grill Ltd., 2008 AHRC 11, rev’d Alberta (Director, Human Rights & Citizenship Commission) and Khalid Alibhai v. Tequila Bar & Grill Ltd. [2009] AWLD 3525 (ABQB) (WL): the Panel had dismissed the complaint, but the Court allowed the appeal and sent the matter back for a re-hearing. The parties settled the complaint prior to the re-hearing.
  • Singh v. Royal Canadian Legion, Jasper Place (Alberta) Branch No. 255 (1990), 11 CHRR D/357 (Alta. Bd. Inq.): this was a case related to racial discrimination, although the ground of the complaint was discrimination based on religion. The complaint was upheld.

Racial profiling

Akena v. Edmonton (City of) (1982), 3 CHRR D/1096(Alta. Bd. Inq.)
Dr. Akena complained that he was stopped by a police officer, searched, charged and harassed because of his colour. The Board of Inquiry concluded that Dr Akena was discriminated against on the basis of colour and ordered that the police officer pay the Complainant $100 as damages for the affront to his worth and dignity, and to refrain from discriminating against individuals in the future.

Discrimination in rates of pay

Workeneh v 922591 Alberta Ltd, 2009 ABQB 191(CanLII), 67 CHRR D/190
The Complainant, who was African Canadian, discovered that co-workers who were performing substantially similar work to her were being paid significantly more that she was. The Court overturned the Panel’s dismissal of the complaint and held that the employer had discriminated against Ms. Workeneh based on race. The Court remitted the matter to a new Panel for assessment of damages.

Economic Development Edmonton v. Wong, 2004 ABQB 546 (CanLII)
Ms. Wong’s human rights complaint was that she received inferior rates of pay because of discrimination based on race. Judicial review of the Chief Commissioner’s decision ordering that a complaint proceed to a Panel hearing was dismissed.

Poisoned work environment and harassment

Calgary (Corporation of the City) v Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 37, 2018 CanLII 53476 (AB GAA)
The City of Calgary terminated the employment of the grievor based on an extensive pattern of racist and discriminatory comments made to co-workers. The arbitration board unanimously held that the termination of employment was justified, stating “These comments had an extremely negative impact on many of his co-workers. We live in an era where much more is being expected of companies and organizations to eliminate racism and discrimination in our diverse, multicultural workplaces. That also means much more is expected of employees” (para. 107). 

Lalwani v. ClaimsPro Inc., 2016 AHRC 2 (CanLII)
The Tribunal held that the employer created a poisoned work environment because of Mr. Lalwani’s race, religious beliefs, colour, ancestry and place of origin and thereby contravened the prohibition of discrimination in employment.

Mohamud v. Canadian Dewatering (2006) Ltd., 2015 AHRC 16 (CanLII)
The Tribunal held that the complaint of discrimination in employment on the grounds of race, colour and religious beliefs was substantiated. The Tribunal found that there were several belittling and humiliating workplace incidents from other employees and with a supervisor, and this created a poisoned work environment. The Tribunal held that the termination of Mr. Mohamud’s employment did not constitute retaliation because he had filed a human rights complaint.

Malko-Monterrosa v. Conseil Scolaire Centre-Nord, 2014 AHRC 5 (CanLII)
The Tribunal held that the employing school board contravened the section of the human rights legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment practices and that Ms. Malko-Monterrosa, a teacher, was discriminated against on the prohibited grounds of race, colour, gender, and ancestry. The Tribunal found that the school board failed to take appropriate action to deal with the harassment by a student toward Ms. Malko-Monterrosa. 

Chieriro v. Michetti, 2013 AHRC 3 (CanLII)
The Human Rights Tribunal found that the employer, among other discriminatory conduct, subjected the complainant to verbal abuse and derogatory comments based on race, place of origin, ancestry, and religion. The Tribunal further found that the employer exploited and abused the complainant because he was new to Canada; the Tribunal held this constituted discrimination based on race, ancestry, and place of origin.

Coward v. Tower Chrysler Plymouth Ltd., 2007 AHRC 7 (CanLII)
The Panel held that Mr. Coward was subjected to discrimination based on race, colour, and ancestry in relation to employment and that there was a poisoned work environment. The Panel stated:  “The law is clear in recognizing that racial slurs and insults constitute discrimination in and of themselves. Additional factors such as incitement to hatred or violence constitute a further additional factor to consider in the full context of discrimination” (para. 147).

Symbols of racist and religious hatred

Kane v. Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations (No. 3) (1992), 18 CHRR D/268 (Alta. Bd. Inq.)
A white supremacist event took place in Alberta 1990. A human rights Board of Inquiry concluded that the “Aryan Fest” was a shocking event in the history of Alberta and denounced the blatant display of signs and symbols full of racial and religious hatred, bigotry, and discrimination.

See also: Systemic Racism in Alberta’s History