Bell discriminated against sick woman: tribunal
TORONTO — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal says Bell Canada discriminated against a seriously ill woman by forcing her to violate her doctor’s orders and go to a store to acquire a cellphone.
Linda Mills of London, Ont., was bedridden and recovering from both chemotherapy and a stroke in July 2014.
The tribunal decision says Mills wanted to acquire a phone and activate it the same day, adding Bell Canada only offered that service instore to people who could present photo ID.
Mills was under doctor’s orders to stay home due to her compromised immune system, so her son tried to collect the phone on her behalf.
The decision says Bell sales staff refused to account for these circumstances, forcing Mills to violate her doctor’s instructions in order to pick up the phone she needed as a safety measure, given her illness.
The tribunal found Bell discriminated against Mills on the grounds of disability and ordered the company to make its policies more accommodating within the next six months.
Bell must also pay Mills $10,000 plus interest as compensation.
Bell’s policies stated that customers hoping for a cellphone with same-day activation had to present themselves in store and present photo identification.
Bell contended its policies were necessary to prevent fraud.
Edward Lustig wrote in the tribunal decision. “It took her over an hour to get ready and be driven to the mall and moved by wheelchair into the store in order to get the phone and be visually identified in the store. Once in the store, the process took no more than five minutes.”
Lustig added, “Contrary to Bell’s submissions, I find the fact that Ms. Mills did ultimately attend in person at the store had a negative impact on her as it caused her great difficulty, was dangerous to her health and contrary to the medical advice of her doctor.”
Lustig ordered Bell to change its policies to ensure people in Mills’s position would be able to acquire a phone with same-day activation without appearing in person.
He nonetheless called Bell a “socially responsible” company that cares about its customers.
Bell spokesperson Nathan Gibson said the company is working to implement the changes called for in Lustig’s decision.