Michêle Bergeron v. Attorney General of Canada

(Federal) (Civil) (By Leave)


Human rights — Commission — Deference — Whether human rights commissions should be entitled to deference in their screening function.


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The applicant Michêle Bergeron worked as a lawyer with the Department of Justice until May 2001 when she took a medical leave for a chronic illness. She attempted to return to work several years later, but Ms. Bergeron and the Department were unable to reach an agreement on a suitable return to work plan. In May 2008, the Department advised Ms. Bergeron that it intended to vacate her position. In July 2008, Ms. Bergeron filed her first grievance alleging a failure to accommodate on the part of her employer. In September 2008, she filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the same grounds. In March 2009, Ms. Bergeron filed a second grievance, this time alleging retaliation by her employer because she had filed a complaint with the Commission. In April 2009, Ms. Bergeron filed another complaint with the Commission on the same ground as the second grievance.

The Commission refused to deal with the complaints. Ms. Bergeron’s challenge of the Commission’s decision relating to the retaliation complaint was successful on judicial review and the complaint was sent back to the Commission for redetermination. Following a number of reconsideration decisions, the Commission decided not to deal with the retaliation complaint because it had already been dealt with through the grievance process. Ms. Bergeron’s application for judicial review of that decision and the subsequent appeal were dismissed.

Lower Court Rulings

November 27, 2020
Federal Court

2020 FC 1090, T-551-19
Application for judicial review dismissed
December 5, 2022
Federal Court of Appeal

2022 FCA 209, A-314-20
Appeal dismissed