Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pay Equity Resources

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a landmark pay equity decision that pilots, flight attendants and mechanics of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines are in the same "establishment" for the purposes of pay equity wage comparisons under s. 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and s. 10 of the Equal Wage Guidelines, 1986, SOR/86-1082.

The 7-0 ruling could speed up the resolution of other pay equity disputes at federally regulated organizations. Cases often take more than a decade to be concluded.

In 1991 and 1992, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) filed complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International Ltd. The union alleged wage discrimination against the predominately female flight attendants as compared to two predominately male employee groups – pilots and ground crews.

Under s. 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is a discriminatory for an employer to pay different wages to male and female employees employed in the same "establishment" who are performing work of equal value. The Equal Wages Guidelines, 1986, adopted under the Act, state that employees of an establishment include all employees subject to a "common personnel and wage policy."

The employer had been arguing that each group is covered under a different collective agreement, so the wage comparison should not be made.

The Court criticized Air Canada for having dragged the case out for 15 years in front of human rights panels and federal courts. The Court said narrow technical interpretations of legislation could "sterilize human rights laws and defeat their very purpose."

The Supreme Court ordered that the matter be sent back to the Canadian Human Rights Commission to continue its investigation into whether there is gender-based wage discrimination.

Resources on the topic:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm


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