CAPE files policy grievance against the Canadian Human Rights Commission for alleged racism and systemic discrimination

November 16, 2020 – The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) filed a policy grievance against the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) for alleged discrimination and systemic racism, particularly against Black employees. CAPE’s grievance was filed alongside two other similar grievances filed by the Association of Justice Counsel (AJC) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

In its grievance, CAPE alleged “black and racialized people working at the Commission continue to experience the adverse impact of policies, procedures, practices and attitudes that serve as barriers to their advancement, health, safety, and overall wellbeing”. 

For greater context, despite efforts from Black employees of the CHRC to affect change in their workplace starting July 2020, after submitting recommended actions to address the CHRC complaints process, practices, and operations as well as shared Black and racialized employees’ experiences, the CHRC made unilateral decisions which aggravated the situation prompting action from CAPE, the AJC and the PSAC.  

At first, all three unions had decided to reach out to the CHRC in support of its racialized and Black members’ recommendations, expressing their desire to work collaboratively to improve the CHRC’s workplace and to help the CHRC regain the trust of its racialized and Black employees. 

However, in response, the CHRC conducted a unilateral, non-inclusive investigative process involving outside third parties without consulting their employees or their unions, all of which damaged their relationship with all the parties involved. The absence of a written report, which would have allowed for greater transparency and accountability, also contributed to worsening the situation.

Yet, all three unions had formally pressed the CHRC to conduct a workplace assessment instead of pursuing their investigative activities, viewed as most appropriate means of engaging all employees when it comes to racism and systemic discrimination issues and a better way to ensure meaningful collaboration, transparency, fairness, inclusivity, credibility and psychological health and safety. 

Read more about CAPE efforts on behalf of its members to promote a work environment that is diverse and inclusive and free from harassment and discrimination.