Federal Court orders CHRC to revisit human rights complaint from Canada Post worker who requires a scent-free workplace

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The Federal Court has directed the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to reconsider a complaint filed by a Canada Post worker who has multi-chemical sensitivity syndrome, which necessitates a scent-free workplace.

The worker, LW, had a grievance dismissed and alleged discrimination that she says was inadequately addressed by both her employer and union.

The Court’s decision emerged following LW’s assertion that her human rights complaint, initially rejected by the CHRC as “vexatious” or made in “bad faith,” was not treated with due fairness. The CHRC had previously determined that the issues raised had been resolved through four separate grievance processes, which concluded with memoranda of agreement.

However, LW contested this resolution, highlighting a breach of procedural fairness, particularly criticizing her union’s decision not to escalate the grievances to arbitration and Canada Post’s delay in disclosing a crucial HRProactive Report.

This report, resulting from an independent third-party investigation, concluded that Canada Post was in violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).

The court scrutinized the CHRC’s handling of LW’s complaint, particularly whether it had been “dealt with fairly in another process.” Ultimately, the judge was persuaded that the CHRC’s decision to dismiss the complaint failed to meet the standards of reasonableness, including justification, transparency, and intelligibility.

The ruling stressed that the CHRC should have engaged more thoroughly with the fairness of the grievance process and the subsequent impact of its decision on the complainant. It criticized the CHRC for treating LW’s dissatisfaction with her union’s representation as a mere grievance process outcome rather than addressing the substantive issues of procedural fairness and the implications of the HRProactive Report’s findings.

“(LW) seeks to have the recommendations in the HRProactive Report addressed before the CHRC, which did not happen in the grievance process because CPC did not disclose the report until after the grievances were resolved,” the court said.

It ordered the CHRC to reassess the complaint under a different decision maker, emphasizing the need for a redetermination that respects the principles of justice and fairness. LW was also awarded $100 in court fees, to be paid by Canada Post.

For more information, see White v. Canada Post Corporation, 2024 FC 198 (CanLII).