Human Rights Protections: British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v Schrenk

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk.[1] LESA’s upcoming webinar: Human Rights Protections After Schrenk examines how this decision has been interpreted and applied across Canada in the nearly five years since and to what extent the decision has impacted human rights protections in areas other than employment.

By way of background, Schrenk has a complex set of facts. The complainant, Mr. Mohammadreza Sheikzadeh-Mashgoul was employed for a company as a civil engineer. The company he worked for was contracted to work on a worksite, along with another company. As part of his position, Mr. Sheikzadeh-Mashgoul was tasked with supervising workers on the construction site, including those from the other company. While on-site, one of the workers from the other company, Mr. Edward Schrenk, repeatedly made discriminatory insults toward Mr. Sheikzadeh-Mashgoul based on Mr. Sheikzadeh-Mashgoul sexual orientation, religion, and place of origin. Mr. Sheikzadeh-Mashgoul filed a complaint at the British Columbia Human rights Tribunal (“BCHRT”) against Mr. Schrenk.[2]

Mr. Schrenk argued that the BCHRT did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because he was not Mr. Sheikzadeh-Mashgoul’s employer or colleague. While the tribunal ruled that they did have jurisdiction,[3] the British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned the decision.[4] In 2017, the matter was heard before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada reached a more similar decision to the BCHRT and court held that the  legislation was intended to prohibit discrimination in the employment context,[5] and to protect workers from discrimination and harassment in the course of employment.[6]

This decision expanded the scope of human rights protection in the area of employment by focusing on the context of employment instead of on specific types of relationships. Labour, employment, and human rights lawyer, Leanne Monsma, will present LESA’s upcoming webinar on the topic. This webinar will review the post-Schrenk case law to answer questions such as:

  1. Are decision makers properly applying the majority’s decision?
  2. Are any decision makers following the concurring or the dissenting reasons?
  3. Has the reasoning in Schrenk been applied to any other protected areas?
  4. What impact has Schrenk had, and in particular, has it affected the volume of complaints that tribunals and commissions receive?

We invite you to join us on May 3, 2023. For details and to register for this webinar, click here.

[1] British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62.

[2] Ibid at para 4 – 12.

[3] Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul v. Clemas Contracting and another, 2015 BCHRT 17.

[4] Schrenk v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal), 2016 BCCA 146.

[5] Supra note 1 at para 37 – 38.

[6] Ibid at para 53 and 54.

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