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Human Rights Commission tackles racial profiling

PrintThis year, a Nova Scotia Human Rights Board of Inquiry issued a highly publicized decision on racial profiling. In the case, the Board concluded that a woman had been discriminated against on the basis of her race and/or colour when wrongfully accused of shoplifting at a grocery store. In her decision on remedy, the Board Chair ordered Sobeys Group Inc. to:

  • issue a written apology to the Complainant for its discriminatory treatment
  • pay the Complainant general damages of $21,000.00 plus 2.55 per cent interest from 2009
  •  at its own cost, participate in training approved by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission with respect to consumer racial profiling, discrimination based on race, colour, and perceived source of income
  • within two months of completing the training, deliver a report to the commission confirming details of the training that has been delivered.

The case brought awareness to the prevalence of the issue of racial profiling in Nova Scotia. A 2012 research study, produced by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, identified the negative experiences of shoppers from visible minority groups as a significant problem throughout the province that is disproportionately affecting visible minority shoppers.

In the wake of the case and this research, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has recently announced plans to take preventative measures to tackle this serious issue. The Commission is developing online training materials, including brochures, and posters for Nova Scotia retailers to use help train their employees. The tools are slated to be available in September, and employers would be well–advised to incorporate them into their employee training to help ensure that they meet their Human Rights obligations to all members of the public.

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Alison J. Bird

Employment Lawyer at Cox & Palmer
Alison Bird is a lawyer practicing in Halifax with the Atlantic regional law firm, Cox & Palmer. Alison is growing her practice in the areas of labour & employment law and litigation. Alison is a frequent presenter on employment law topics and recently presented on the challenges being faced by employers dealing with changing demographics in the workplace. Read more
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