Judge rules on pol­i­tics ver­sus of­fice pol­i­tics in dis­crim­i­na­tion com­plaint

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

Of­fice pol­i­tics are not grounds for dis­crim­i­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to a New Brunswick judge in a rul­ing on a re­cent com­plaint in the prov­ince.

Jus­tice E. Thomas Christie of the Court of Queen's Bench said is­sues of of­fice pol­i­tics are mat­ters for hu­man re­source staff and should not be an is­sue for the prov­ince's Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

“To do so would be to open the flood­gates to com­plaints be­tween per­sons in the same work­place over is­sues as­so­ci­ated with the op­er­a­tion of the en­ter­prise,” he wrote in a re­cent de­ci­sion.

Christie was asked to rule on the case of Richard Doucet, a for­mer em­ployee of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, En­ergy and Paper­work­ers Union of Canada, who sought to have the court over­turn a New Brunswick Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion de­ci­sion to dis­miss a com­plaint against the union.

Doucet filed his orig­i­nal com­plaint in 2009, based on his age, men­tal dis­abil­ity, phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity and political be­lief or ac­tiv­ity in re­gard to his em­ploy­ment.

In a 22-page de­ci­sion, re­leased in Novem­ber, Christie says there had been a lot of ten­sion in the ex­ec­u­tive of­fice at the union and Doucet found him­self out of a job af­ter los­ing an elec­tion to be­come vice-pres­i­dent.

Doucet filed a com­plaint with the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion al­leg­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion on nu­mer­ous grounds, in­clud­ing political be­lief and ac­tiv­ity.

“The is­sue is con­cerned with his in­ter­ac­tion with other elected of­fi­cials of the Re­spon­dent and does not in­volve 'political be­lief of ac­tiv­ity' as­so­ci­ated with a political party. In other words, the present com­plaint in­volves 'of­fice pol­i­tics',” Christie wrote.

In re­lay­ing the facts of the case, Christie wrote that Doucet ran for the po­si­tion of vice-pres­i­dent of the union in 2006 but lost to Er­van Cronk, but later that year was elected as ad­min­is­tra­tive vice-pres­i­dent - a rank lower than Cronk's po­si­tion.

He says Doucet made it clear he would chal­lenge Cronk again in 2008 for the vice-pres­i­dent po­si­tion.

Doucet was di­ag­nosed with heart dis­ease in early 2007 and was off the job for about 15 months. Dur­ing that time he de­vel­oped other health is­sues and had heart surgery.

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