Update on Racism Allegations at Justice Canada
The controversy concerns allegations that visible minority lawyers have been subjected to systemic discrimination.
The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly has looked into the issue in an article entitled Allegations of racism at the DOJ cause a stir. The article quotes Justice Canada visible minority lawyers about their allegedly negative experiences in the department.
It also mentions statistics:
"DOJ employment equity data for 2006-2007 obtained by The Lawyers Weekly disclose that 88 per cent of visible minority lawyers are concentrated in the department’s two lowest salary categories, as compared to 71 per cent of white lawyers in the lower ranks. Visible minority lawyers are totally absent from top management. The data also show that the DOJ’s visible minority employees have a higher turn-over rate than their white colleagues ... "The department is looking into beefing up its minority promotion programs:
"An anonymous government survey at the DOJ in 2005 revealed that 41 per cent of visible minority respondents felt they were not fairly classified in their employment category when compared to others doing similar work, versus 34 per cent of white employees who felt they were unfairly classified..."
"Ines Kwan, a human rights lawyer of Chinese heritage who chairs the DOJ’s Advisory Committee on Visible Minorities, said DOJ is 'definitely not perfect' but 'it is a microcosm of Canadian society and there is discrimination in Canadian society so in that respect I don’t think it unusual. There are problems, but I don’t think everyone’s experience has been like Mark Persaud’s [one of the minority lawyers behind many of the complaints]. I think that the experience is varied.'
"She said she believes that 'senior management has taken this issue very, very seriously and that myself personally, and the committee, we are confident that things will be done to improve the situation'."
"The advisory committee has told the deputy minister more visible minority lawyers should be promoted. It is presently awaiting approval from senior management for a new national mentoring program, Kwan said. 'It looks good'."