This case concerned whether pregnancy discrimination was sex discrimination.
LEAF sponsored Christine Davies at the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Christine Davies applied for a job with Century Oils (Canada) Inc., and was offered the position. After she told the manager responsible for hiring that she was pregnant, however, Century withdrew the job offer. Ms. Davies filed a human rights complaint with the British Columbia Council of Human Rights. The Council found that Century had discriminated against Ms. Davies based on her sex, and awarded her compensation. Century filed for judicial review of the decision.
Ms. Davies argued that the Council correctly found that pregnancy discrimination was sex discrimination. This was consistent with Canada’s human rights obligations under international law as well as the motivations underlying relevant provincial and federal legislation. Although an earlier Supreme Court of Canada case under the Bill of Rights (Bliss v. A.G. Canada) had ruled that pregnancy discrimination was not sex discrimination, that decision did not apply given the wording of ss. 15 and 28 of the Charter.
The Court dismissed Century’s application, making a precedent-setting decision that pregnancy discrimination was sex discrimination. In doing so, it found that Bliss did not apply to the case.
LEAF’s advocacy in this area did not end with this case. LEAF was soon back in court on this issue, this time arguing in front of the Supreme Court of Canada. For more information, see our intervention in Brooks v. Canada Safeway Ltd.
LEAF is grateful to Gayle Gavin and Gwen Brodsky, counsel in this case.
Download the factum here.
Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].