Workplace Law Blog
Knowledge Centre

BC Human Rights Tribunal Shuts Down Complaint of “Anti-Masker”

April 6, 2021

The BC Human Rights Tribunal issued a screening decision on March 31, 2021 in the case of a customer who refused to wear a mask in a grocery store.

The store’s security guard asked the customer to wear a mask.  The customer said she was exempt from wearing a mask but refused to say why.  She made a statement about masks causing health issues, and causing breathing difficulties.   The guard insisted the customer had to wear a mask so the customer left the store.  

The customer filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal alleging discrimination.  Specifically, the customer alleged that, by requiring her to wear a mask or leave, the store had discriminated against her based on a physical and mental disability, in contravention of the BC Human Rights Code (the “Code”). 

The customer refused to provide any information to the Tribunal about her alleged disability or how it interfered with her ability to wear a mask.   The customer simply alleged, “it is very difficult to breathe with masks, and it causes anxiety”.  She refused to disclose any information about her specific physical or mental disability. 

The Tribunal dismissed the customer’s complaint.  The Tribunal found that it did not contain a possible contravention of the Code.  The customer had not alleged any facts to establish that she had a physical or mental disability that was a factor in her being asked to wear a mask or leave the store.  Specifically, the Tribunal said:

“The Code does not protect people who refuse to wear a mask as a matter of personal preference, because they believe wearing a mask is “pointless”, or because they disagree that wearing masks helps to protect the public during a pandemic”.  

The Tribunal said that any claim of disability discrimination relating to wearing a mask must start by establishing the person has a disability that interferes with their ability to wear a mask.  

The Tribunal can require disclosure of this health information to assess a complaint.  In this case, the complainant refused to provide any evidence of her alleged disability. 

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This case serves as a useful reminder that personal preferences are not enough to support a complaint of discrimination.  The complainant must prove they fall within a protected class or have a protected characteristic like a disability, and then prove adverse treatment connected to that protected class or characteristic.  

This update was authored by Harper Grey lawyer, Scott Marcinkow. Have questions regarding this post? Contact Scott at [email protected] or anyone else listed on the authors page.

Tags

Expertise

Important Notice: The information contained in this Article is intended for general information purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It is not intended as legal advice from Harper Grey LLP or the individual author(s), nor intended as a substitute for legal advice on any specific subject matter. Detailed legal counsel should be sought prior to undertaking any legal matter. The information contained in this Article is current to the last update and may change. Last Update: April 6, 2021.

©Harper Grey LLP 2021

 

 

Related

Lesley Russel presents to group of investment planners on wills and estates
Lesley Russel presents to group of investment planners on wills and estates Lesley Russel presents to group of investment planners on wills and estates
The Consequences of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The Consequences of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace The Consequences of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Harper Grey shortlisted as Canadian Insurance Law Firm of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Harper Grey shortlisted as Canadian Insurance Law Firm of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Norm Streu co-authors article published by Business in Vancouver discussing new labour legislation in Canada
Norm Streu co-authors article published by Business in Vancouver discussing new labour legislation in Canada Norm Streu co-authors article published by Business in Vancouver discussing new labour legislation in Canada
Kim Jakeman, KC shortlisted as Canadian Health Law/Medical Litigator of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Kim Jakeman, KC shortlisted as Canadian Health Law/Medical Litigator of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024 Kim Jakeman, KC shortlisted as Canadian Health Law/Medical Litigator of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Harper Grey shortlisted as Canadian Health Law/Medical Firm of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Harper Grey shortlisted as Canadian Health Law/Medical Firm of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Rose Keith, KC to present at The Advocates’ Society’s education program: Navigating Interprovincial Personal Injury Disputes
Rose Keith, KC to present at The Advocates’ Society’s education program: Navigating Interprovincial Personal Injury Disputes Rose Keith, KC to present at The Advocates’ Society’s education program: Navigating Interprovincial Personal Injury Disputes
Harper Grey shortlisted as Canadian Construction Law Firm of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Harper Grey shortlisted as Canadian Construction Law Firm of the Year by Benchmark Canada 2024
Monique Sever to participate in International Legal Technology Association’s Webinar titled “What is Copilot and Why is Information Governance in Copilot Important?”
Monique Sever to participate in International Legal Technology Association’s Webinar titled “What is Copilot and Why is Information Governance in Copilot Important?” Monique Sever to participate in International Legal Technology Association’s Webinar titled “What is Copilot and Why is Information Governance in Copilot Important?”
Canada’s Modern Slavery Act
Canada’s Modern Slavery Act Canada’s Modern Slavery Act
Brett Weninger interviewed by Canadian HRReporter for article titled “Can you dismiss an employee on medical leave?”
Brett Weninger interviewed by Canadian HRReporter for article titled “Can you dismiss an employee on medical leave?” Brett Weninger interviewed by Canadian HRReporter for article titled “Can you dismiss an employee on medical leave?”
Rose Keith, KC publishes Employment Update Column for Spring 2024 Issue of The Verdict
Rose Keith, KC publishes Employment Update Column for Spring 2024 Issue of The Verdict Rose Keith, KC publishes Employment Update Column for Spring 2024 Issue of The Verdict
Harper Grey shortlisted for five Benchmark Canada 2024 Awards
Harper Grey shortlisted for five Benchmark Canada 2024 Awards Harper Grey shortlisted for five Benchmark Canada 2024 Awards Harper Grey shortlisted for five Benchmark Canada 2024 Awards
Michael Robinson guest lectures at Langara College
Michael Robinson guest lectures at Langara College Michael Robinson guest lectures at Langara College
Amendments coming to the Environmental Management Act: British Columbia to introduce more robust regulation of the decommissioning and closure of industrial facilities
Amendments coming to the Environmental Management Act: British Columbia to introduce more robust regulation of the decommissioning and closure of industrial facilities Amendments coming to the Environmental Management Act: British Columbia to introduce more robust regulation of the decommissioning and closure of industrial facilities Amendments coming to the Environmental Management Act: British Columbia to introduce more robust regulation of the decommissioning and closure of industrial facilities
arrow icon

Subscribe