Caregiver Accommodation: The Final Answer

  • August 5, 2014
  • David Baker

Toronto, ON, August 5, 2014 — The deadline for Canadian National Railways to appeal the case of Denise Seeley to the Supreme Court of Canada has passed. As a consequence her Federal Court of Appeal victory stands, confirming that every employer is obligated, pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act, to accommodate the family caregiving obligations of its employees. Since the relevant sections of the Act are duplicated in human rights legislation across the country, Ms. Seeley’s case [together with its case companion Johnstone v. Canada], stands as a precedent with implications in every workplace in Canada.

Denise Seeley is an over the rail conductor with CN. She declined to accept a long-term transfer from her home base of Jasper Alberta to Vancouver  because she and her husband Dale, who is a CN engineer, would have been unable to meet their child care obligations for their two infant children. CN responded by terminating her.

Justice Mainville, who now sits on the Quebec Court of Appeal, wrote for a unanimous Federal Court of Appeal that CN’s actions constituted discrimination and upheld the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision reinstating her to her former job and granting her full compensation for the losses she had sustained.

Ms. Seeley received the news while on a horseback excursion with her family. Her response: “I have saved a bottle of champagne for this day, but it will have to wait because I am going off to work [as a CN conductor] now. It’s an emotional time.”

Her lawyer, David Baker, of Toronto firm bakerlaw , said, “Denise  saw the case through for caregivers across Canada. The next frontier will be cases on behalf of those caring for elderly parents and spouses with disabilities”.

Ms. Seeley will speak publicly about her case for the first time.

Contacts: Denise Seeley (780) 817-2449 seeleyclan@gmail.com (link)

                  David Baker (416) 533-0040 222 dbaker@bakerlaw.ca (link)

Related: ,