British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Edward Schrenk

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Human rights - Employment law, Boards and tribunals, Jurisdiction.


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Human rights – Discrimination – Employment – Boards and tribunals – Jurisdiction – Complainant filing complaint with Human Rights Tribunal arguing discrimination based on place of origin, religion and sexual orientation – Whether an employee’s protection from discrimination in the workplace is restricted to specific relationships marked by economic power imbalance – Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210, ss. 1, 13(1), 27(1).

The applicant Mr. Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul (“Mr. Mashgoul”) is a civil engineer who represented a consulting engineering firm on a road improvement project. In that capacity, he supervised work of a construction company where the respondent Mr. Schrenk worked as foreman. While working on the project, Mr. Schrenk made derogatory statements to Mr. Mashgoul and others with respect to Mr. Mashgoul’s place of origin, religion and sexual orientation and sent him derogatory emails. Mr. Mashgoul’s employer complained to Mr. Schrenk’s employer, and Mr. Schrenk’s employment was terminated.

Mr. Mashgoul filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (“Tribunal”) alleging discrimination with respect to employment by Mr. Schrenk. He also alleged that the conduct was permitted or tolerated by Mr. Schrenk’s employer and the owner of the project.

Mr. Schrenk and his employer brought an application to dismiss the complaint pursuant to s. 27(1) of the Code on the basis that the complaint was not within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. Mr. Schrenk submitted that the alleged conduct did not constitute “discrimination in employment” within the meaning of s. 13(1) of the Code because of the limited nexus between the conduct and employment.