Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

Wealth Disparity

In 2009, Adrian Monrose came to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program to work for Double Diamond Acres Ltd. During the course of his employment, Monrose and his fellow migrant workers were referred to as “monkeys” by persons in authority at Double Diamond. Monrose did something that migrant workers typically do not do (due to the significant power imbalance between employers and migrant workers) – he complained to management.

A couple of weeks later his employment was terminated. Following a hearing, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario concluded that Monrose was fired, at least in part, because he had complained about the “monkey” comment. Vice-Chair David Muir awarded Monrose $3,000.00 for damages to feelings, dignity and self-respect, stating:

Amongst the factors that I have considered in making this assessment was the applicant’s evidence of how it affected him to be referred to as a monkey by a supervisor and an owner of the company. I have also considered the context in which these incidents occurred, a greenhouse occupation in front of a number of other racialized migrant workers…

Vice-Chair Muir awarded a further $15,000.00 to Monrose for losses associated with his right to be free from reprisal, stating:

I have accepted…evidence…of the unique vulnerability of migrant workers and their understandable reluctance to stand up for their rights. The applicant did so in this case and paid a significant price for his having done so.

Monrose also received lost wages for the remainder of his contract that he would have received had he not been terminated (12 weeks), and Double Diamond was ordered to develop appropriate human rights policies and ensure that all employees with supervisory responsibilities complete human rights training.

Case Citation:    Adrian Monrose v. Double Diamond Acres Limited and Jeffrey Carreiro, 2013 HRTO 1273

Racism

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects employees from adverse treatment on the basis of their race. This includes racial stereotypes that may subtly influence decisions, even where the employer is unaware of their influence.

Adams v. Knoll North America Corp.

In Adams v. Knoll North America Corp.[i], a 2009 decision of the Tribunal, an Applicant a self-identified black Applicant became upset at his supervisor and raised his voice and yelled in the workplace. The Applicant’s supervisor felt that the Applicant had lost control and as a result the supervisor felt threatened.

The Applicant was suspended for three-days, and a pre-condition for the Applicant’s return to the workplace was that he undergo anger management counselling through the employer’s assistance plan. The Applicant refused to partake in anger management counselling and his employment was terminated.

The Applicant brought an Application to the Tribunal alleging that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his race. The Tribunal considered whether the Applicant’s race was a factor in the decision to require anger management counselling and found that on a balance of probabilities the employer’s conclusion that he could become violent in the workplace based on one incident of raising his voice and yelling was influenced by the discriminatory stereotype that black men have a propensity to turn to violence.

The Tribunal noted that racial stereotypes can subtly influence decisions, without knowledge or intention. The Tribunal stated:

We have come to understand that the application of racial stereotypes that Black men are prone to violence and criminal behaviour can lead to a greater monitoring and scrutiny of their behaviour. This heightened scrutiny may involve an overreaction to their behaviour when involved in situations that pose challenges for those in authority and this too, can form part of the differential treatment they experience…

The scrutiny itself may be unintentional. The impact of being more highly scrutinized must be examined from the perspective of the racialized person and not from the perspective of those who do not experience it.

CONCLUSION

Employers, landlords, and service providers (including police officers) can be found to have discriminated for decisions that are based, at least in part, on racial stereotypes – even if unintentional. It is important that decision-makers remain aware of the influence of stereotypes and take action to ensure they do not form a part of their decisions.

END NOTES


[i] 2009 HRTO 1381