The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a dismissal of a pay equity complaint by employees of the Vancouver Police Board.
The court’s decision is the latest in a longstanding dispute over equality of wages for dispatchers employed by the Vancouver Police Board and the City of Vancouver’s fire department. The female complainants are dispatchers for the Vancouver Police Board. They were paid only 40% of the wages of dispatchers for the fire department, who are mostly men.
The complainants brought a human rights complaint against the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board, alleging they were discriminated against on the basis of sex because they were paid less than other employees, i.e. the male dispatchers within the fire department. Although they were employed by the Vancouver Police Board, the complainants also named the City as a respondent, alleging the Police Board was financially dependent on the City.
The Human Rights Tribunal dismissed the complaint on the basis that the complainants were employed only by the Vancouver Police Board, not the City, whereas the fire department dispatchers were employed by the City. As the City employed only the fire department dispatchers, it could not discriminate between the two groups.
The Tribunal’s decision was overturned by the B.C. Supreme Court. On appeal, the Court of Appeal restored the Tribunal’s finding in a 2-1 split decision.