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Media release: Equity Watch condemns Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission for dropping the ball on sexual harassment case

It should come as little surprise to Nova Scotians that the NS Human Rights Commission has once again failed to protect the rights of a working woman.

Three and a half years ago Christine Shupe of Halifax left her job at Beaver Enviro because of what she claims was sexual harassment by the boss and owner, Wyatt Redmond.

She filed her complaint of discrimination based on sex at the NS Human Rights Commission, but the Commission dragged its feet – as usual — in pursuing the case.  Finally, after Shupe contacted the NS Ombudsman’s office, it pushed the Commission to act on her complaint.

Just after the Commission agreed the case could go to a public Board of Inquiry, there was an about-face. In March, the Commission dismissed her complaint because it had not named the company correctly.  Though Beaver Enviro is the name on the building, the company’s registered name is 2557617 Nova Scotia. This should have been stunningly easy to find out.

Because of this technical mistake, Shupe’s case of sex discrimination was dropped, and because the harassment incidents had taken place more than 12 months before, the Commission could not (as stipulated by the NS Human Rights Act) pursue her case.

Says Equity Watch spokesperson Judy Haiven, “That would not have happened in New Brunswick whose Human Rights Act allows: ‘18(2) The Commission may extend the time for the filing of a complaint if, in the opinion of the Commission, the circumstances warrant it.’

“Equity Watch is not happy to hear of yet another case of the NS Human Rights Commission dragging its feet, and losing the chance to pursue violators. This shows that Nova Scotia’s human rights regime is past due for an overhaul.”

Equity Watch’s report Justice Impeded: A Critique of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Regime details case after case of the NS Human Rights Commission not doing its job – and dismissing cases on a technicality, or through sloppiness or ignoring timelines.    We find it hard to believe that in 50 years, the NS Human Rights Commission has never before had to check the legal names of companies.

“Justice Impeded,” published in January 2021, details complaints and human rights cases which the Commission never adequately pursued.  Equity Watch is asking the NS Human Rights Commission to simply do its job, that is the least they owe Nova Scotians. 

For more information, contact Judy Haiven, jhaiven@gmail.com

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