Federal Class Action
This class action concerns systemic racism in the Public Service of Canada, directed at self-identifying Black individuals who applied for employment with the Public Service of Canada and were denied entry based on their race, and those who were employed but were denied promotions based on their race – this includes current employees and those who have been employed within the past 52 years. Damages include the wrongful failure to promote, intentional infliction of mental suffering, constructive dismissal, wrongful termination, negligence, and in particular, violations of employment law, human rights law, and Charter breaches.
As a result of systemic discrimination, Canada has failed to achieve equality in the workplace, such that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability. In the fulfillment of the goal of workplace equality, Canada has failed to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by Black Canadians. Visit blackclassaction.ca for more details.
This action is pending certification in the Federal Court of Canada in May 2024.
Results of the Black Class Action Lawsuit
As a result of the Black class action lawsuit, either in part or in full, the following victories were achieved on the political front:
Call to Action: The Clerk of the Privy Council issued a Call to Action to the public service, with a specific emphasis on addressing the underrepresentation of Black employees in leadership roles. January 22, 2021.
Legislative Amendments: The Government of Canada amended the Public Service Employment Act to address bias and barriers in staffing processes. The Black Class Action advances claims that the staffing processes in the public service are often biased. July 7, 2021.
Mental Health Fund and Career Opportunities: Canada announced $3.7 million in 2022 and $45.9 million in the 2023 budget to create a Mental Health Fund for Black public service employees and establish dedicated career development programs. This includes preparing Black public service leaders for executive positions. The Black Class Action filed an emergency motion on July 9, 2021, in the Federal Court seeking an Order to provide mental health services and counseling for Black employees who have suffered mental health and physical symptoms associated with experiences of racial trauma and systemic discrimination within the Public Service of Canada. April 7, 2022, and March 8, 2023.
Employment Equity Act Review: Canada announced a review of the Employment Equity Act and a task force to provide recommendations for amendments. The report and amendments are currently pending. The Black Class Action claim contends that Canada’s application of the Employment Equity Act violates the Charter equality rights of Black employees. An order is being sought to strike down parts of the Act, which covers over one (1) million workers. Modernizing the Act will benefit all workers. On December 11, 2023, the Minister of Labour announced that Canada will recognize Black people as an employment equity group in the revised Employment Equity Act.