Black civil servants file discrimination complaint against federal government with United Nations

More a media strategy than substantive given the court case will be definitive. As I have noted previously, overall EE numbers provide a more nuanced picture in relation to other visible minority groups.

With disaggregated data now routinely published in employment equity reports and public service employee surveys, Amnesty arguments that Blacks are “invisible” in the visible minority group no longer applies:

Black civil servants are ramping up their pressure on the federal government by filing a complaint with the United Nations alleging Ottawa violated their civil rights.

The complaint by the Black Class Action Secretariat is being sent to the UN Commission for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

It follows a class action lawsuit the same group filed against the federal government accusing it of systemic racism, discrimination and employee exclusion.

“This complaint details systemic and anti-Black racism in hiring and promotions within Canada’s federal public service,” said Nicholas Marcus Thompson, executive director of the Black Class Action Secretariat.

“With this complaint, we are elevating Canada’s past failures and failure to act in the present to an international body.”

Thompson told a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday that the secretariat hopes the UN special rapporteur investigates its claims and calls on Canada to meet its international obligations to Black employees by establishing a plan to increase opportunities for Black women in the government and develop specific targets for hiring and promoting Black workers.

Current and former Black civil servants have filed a suit against the federal government alleging discrimination that led to poor treatment and being overlooked for promotion.

Amnesty International threw its weight behind the complaint, noting that 70 per cent of the 1,500 employees who have joined the class action are Black women.

“This is contrary to the feminist commitments made by the Canadian government,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

In addition to supporting the complaint, Nivyabandi also called on the government to establish a designated category under the Employment Equity Act for Black employees. Canada has launched a task force to review this legislation.

The stated purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to “correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.””

Nivyabandi said grouping all visible minorities together makes the unique forms of discrimination Black employees face “invisible.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and New Democrat MP Matthew Green were at Wednesday’s news conference on Parliament Hill to offer their support.

“On behalf of all New Democrats, as leader of the party, I want to express my full solidarity,” Singh said. “Their call for justice, in this case, their call for equity … is something that we fully support.”

Mona Fortier, president of the Treasury Board, is set to meet with Thompson this week. She said that far too many Black Canadians still face discrimination and hate.

“The government is actively working to address harms and to create a diverse and inclusive public service free from harassment and discrimination. We passed legislation, created support and development programs, and published disaggregated data — but know there is still more to do,” Fortier said in a media statement.

The lawsuit filed in Federal Court alleges that, going back to the 1970s, roughly 30,000 Black civil servants have lost out on “opportunities and benefits afforded to others based on their race.”

The statement of claim says the lawsuit is seeking damages to compensate Black public servants for their mental and economic hardships. Plaintiffs are also asking for a plan to finally diversify the federal labour force and eliminate barriers that even employment equity laws have been unable to remove.

Source: Black civil servants file discrimination complaint against federal government with United Nations

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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