如果你在安大略消费或就业受到他人的歧视,该怎么办?

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在最近的Wickham 诉Hong Shing中餐馆(2018 HRTO 500)(https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2018/2018canlii34656/2018canlii34656.html)一案中,安大略省人权法庭判决:市中心的这家中餐馆必须支付10,000美元给一位曾被餐馆员工要求提前支付餐费的顾客。

当时餐厅要求一起来就餐的四个黑人,必须四人提前支付餐费,然后才能用餐,而同时在餐厅就餐的其他客人却没有相同要求。虽然餐厅为自己辩护,解释说它有这样的政策来防止用餐后逃单。但法庭不被辩方说服。法庭认定,根据“安大略人权法”中有关种族,肤色和种族歧视的条款,这家中餐馆已构成对申诉人的歧视行为。

除了就业,住房和合约外,“安大略人权法”还涵盖了商品,服务和服务设施等更广泛的领域。当企业或商家向公众出售产品或提供服务时,雇主有责任确保其员工尊重每个人。

虽然公开的种族歧视行为已经在安大略得到了相当程度的制止,各个方面的宣传上也很普及,不过这种时常出现的细微差别待遇,也常使许多不同肤色人感到不安或甚至歧视。

这个案子对所有雇主来说都是一个很好的提醒,在对所有员工的培训时,无论员工人数多少。雇主都要对其雇员在其工作期间时的行为承担替代责任。但除了了解“人权法”规定的雇主责任之外,对员工这方面培训的需求也在不断增长,这也要求员工对隐性偏见进行教育。

虽然被诉者认为他们的行为不是出于种族偏见的动机,但根据常识,即使你不是一个种族歧视主义者,我们所有人都在不同程度上,存在对其他人的偏见。我们可能会根据他们的外貌,性别或年龄来判断他人,甚至我们自己都没有意识到这些偏见。

有许多行为受到“人权法”的保护,这可能不是许多雇员关注的焦点。比如一些需要辅助动物的顾客,餐馆不能拒绝带动物而阻止其用餐;女性不能因为母乳喂养而受到歧视。

对任何雇主来说,培训其员工(以及自身!)承认无意识的偏见是一项非常重要的工作。这不是在工资单上扣除因种族主义行为所付上的代价,而是一起认识到未来我们如何能够更好地做出一个正确公平的判断。

最近在费城星巴克咖啡发生的一起公开的种族歧视事件中,员工向两名坐着等朋友的黑人男子报了警,结果引起社会舆论的巨大反响,星巴克迅速采取行动,为美国各地175,000名员工安排了种族敏感度和无意识偏见培训。

此次安省人权法庭的裁决也为雇主提供了另一个重要提醒:雇主对发生的任何人权投诉不能置之不理,如果投诉没有得到及时答复,被投诉人可能会被认定违约并被视为已接受投诉人提出的所有指控。

该中餐馆没有按时为其投诉辩护,也没有参加听证会,最后导致了大量对自己不利的负面宣传。在一般情况下,人权法庭会要求双方首先通过调解解决投诉的问题,而且调解过程是保护隐私的,任何达成的协议通常都会包括不披露条款,禁止投诉细节和解决方案公布等。通过斡旋或出席听证会,被诉者是有机会减少其在公众形象的损害。

每个安大略省的居民当他们感到自己受歧视时,可以获得免费的法律资源;而雇主或企业主则不一样,作为企业主,如果客户或员工向您提出任何可能与人权法则有关的担忧时,无论是产假,解雇经常生病者,公众场合不合适的笑话或任何其他问题的人与“守则”基础相关,一旦提出问题,企业和专门从事人权法律的律师进行磋商就非常重要。但在此之前,每个雇主和企业主必须首先确保他们的培训和雇佣政策符合“安大略人权法”。专业人权律师的意见将为您提供指导性方案,并确保您的员工或客户有一个安全放心的工作及服务环境。

作者简介: 海纳.比斯特费尔德(Hannah Biesterfeld)律师

多年诉讼律师经验,也精通德语,法语等多种欧洲语言,曾任职于加拿大航空,欧共体人权研究中心,安省政府人权事务委员会专职律师,现任职于黄云峰诉讼律师事务所,擅长人权诉讼,雇佣关系诉讼及商业诉讼等。

Recent Human Rights Tribunal Decision a Strong Warning to Employers

In Wickham v. Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant (2018 HRTO 500) (https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2018/2018canlii34656/2018canlii34656.html), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that the downtown Chinese restaurant must pay $10,000 to a patron who had been asked by its staff to pay for his food in advance.

The restaurant asked a group of four, who all identify as Black, to pay for their meals in advance, even though no one else in the restaurant was asked to do the same. The restaurant defended itself, explaining that it had such a policy to prevent dining and dashing. The Tribunal was not persuaded by the defence.

The Tribunal found that the respondent restaurant had subjected the complainant to discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code on the basis of place of race, colour, and ethnic origin.

Besides employment, housing, and contracts, the Ontario Human Rights Code also covers goods, services, and facilities. When selling goods or providing services to the public, an employer is responsible for ensuring that its staff treats everyone with respect.

While this case garnered considerable publicity for such a blatant act of racial discrimination, there are frequent instances of more subtle differential treatment that can leave people of colour feeling unwelcome.

This is a good reminder for employers that training for all staff is so important, not matter how few employees. An employer is vicariously liable for the actions of its employees while they are at work. But beyond learning what an employer’s responsibilities are under the Human Rights Code, there is an ever-growing demand for training that also educates staff on implicit bias.

The respondents felt that their actions were not motivated by racial bias, but one does not have to identify as a racist to discriminate. All of us harbour preconceptions about others. We may judge others based on their appearance, gender, or age without even realizing it.

There are many activities that are protected by the Human Rights Code that may not be on the radar of many employees. For example, customers with service animals cannot be turned away, even from establishments that serve food, and women cannot be discriminated against for breastfeeding.

It is an invaluable exercise for any employer to train its employees (and itself!) to recognize unconscious biases. It is not a matter of rooting out and terminating the closet racist on the payroll, but of recognizing together how we can all do better to confront the judgments we all make.

Starbucks recently addressed their own highly publicized incident of racial discrimination when employees in Philadelphia called the police on two black men who were seated, waiting for a friend before they ordered coffee. Starbucks moved quickly to arrange for racial sensitivity and unconscious bias training for 175,000 employees across the United States.

This Tribunal decision also delivers another important reminder for employers. Human Rights complaints cannot be swept under the rug. If a complaint is not responded to in a timely manner, the respondent can be noted in default and deemed to have accepted all the allegations made by the complainant.

The restaurant did not defend the complaint on time and did not participate in the hearing. The Tribunal generally requires that complaints be mediated first. In this case, it appears that didn’t happen. Mediations are private, and any agreement reached will usually include non-disclosure terms, prohibiting the details of the complaint and the settlement from being made public.

By not mediating and not appearing at the hearing, the respondents not only deprived themselves of the opportunity to limit the damage, but opened themselves up to considerable unwanted publicity.

Members of the public have access to free legal resources in Ontario, if they believe they have been discriminated against. The same is not true of employers or business owners.

As a business owner, if customers, clients, or employees come to you with any concerns that you believe may be related to a human rights ground, whether it’s maternity leave, terminating someone who often calls in sick, inappropriate jokes, or any other issue related to a Code ground, it is important to consult with a lawyer who specializes in human rights law as soon as the issue is raised.

But before that happens, every employer and business owner must first ensure that their training and policies are compliant with the Ontario Human Rights Code. A consultation with a human rights lawyer will provide you with the tools and guidance to ensure your employees feel safe and your customers leave happy。

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