Legal News

Isolated Workplace Comment Not Discrimination: BC Human Rights Tribunal
October 28, 2003

The complainant, of Filipino descent, worked as a custodian for a school district. She alleged that a co-worker had sworn at her in the workplace and had told a supervisor that she “hated Filipinos.” The complainant had not heard the latter remark directly. The co-worker admitted cursing at the complainant, but claimed she had made the “hated Filipino’s” remark only in response to the complainant’s statement that she “hated Americans.”

The custodian filed a human rights complaint against the school board, alleging that the co-worker’s remarks constituted discrimination on the basis of her race.

In dismissing the complaint on a preliminary application, the Human Rights Tribunal reviewed the factors to be considered when an isolated comment is alleged to be discriminatory.

Where a single comment forms the basis of a complaint, the Tribunal will examine the virulence of the comment, the nature of the relationship between the parties, the context in which the comment was made, whether an apology was offered and whether the recipient of the comment was a member of a historically disadvantaged group.

The Tribunal concluded that the isolated comment did not constitute discriminatory conduct under the Human Rights Code.

Pardo v. School District No. 43 2003 BCHRT 71

(click here for full text of the judgment)