Pay equity complaints can be heard as human rights complaints in Nova Scotia: Board

Board of inquiry finds complaint by female employees has overlapping jurisdiction among labour standards, pay equity and human rights legislation
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 06/15/2009

An independent board of inquiry has ruled a complaint of discrimination regarding pay equity can be heard under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.

Three female employees of the Truro, N.S., police department filed a human rights complaint in 2008, saying they were paid less for work of equal value than male employees of the department. The matter was referred by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to the board of inquiry, which is the final stage of the human rights complaint process.

The Town of Truro disputed the board’s jurisdiction, saying the matter was a pay equity complaint and should involve the union. The town also said the complaint might be better heard by Labour Standards or the Pay Equity Commission and sought a preliminary ruling on whether the board of inquiry had the authority to hear a pay equity complaint.

The board found pay equity complaints have overlapping jurisdiction under the province’s Labour Standards Code, Pay Equity Act and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. Therefore, it said, the board can hear pay equity complaints referred to it by the commission. A previous board decision in 2008 allowed human rights tribunals to hear pay equity issues.

The board also found the town could not bring the union into the complaint since the pay equity issue did not appear to arise from the collective agreement.

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