Marathon pay equity battle goes to Canada’s top court

Complaints has gone through human rights tribunal and now three court levels; $150 million award hangs in the balance
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 12/20/2010

A 27-year-old complaint against Canada Post for discrimination against female employees in their pay will be decided for once and for all by the Supreme Court of Canada.

In August 1983, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) filed a human rights complaint against Canada Post, claiming female employees were making less than men in similar jobs. Years of complicated comparisons of mostly female clerical jobs and mostly male postal operations positions dragged the case on until 2005, when the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled Canada Post had discriminated against female employees. Canada Post was ordered to shell out $150 million in back pay and interest.

However, Canada Post appealed and the Federal Court overturned the tribunal’s decision in 2008 and the Federal Court of Appeal agreed in February 2010. The appeal court found there wasn’t sufficient evidence supporting the discrimination claim.

Despite the recent rulings, the PSAC was encouraged by the fact the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling was a split decision. It appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which granted leave to appeal and will make a final verdict in the dispute, which has lasted for almost three decades.

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