Alberta's governing body for engineers is appealing a decision by the Human Rights Commission regarding the credentials of a Czech-trained man.

Last month, the commission sided with Ladislav Mihaly, who trained in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. He refused to write the mandatory technical exams set by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to prove his credentials.

"The decision — no question — did catch APEGA by surprise," said Carol Moen, registrar for APEGA. "Obviously, we then disagreed with the decision."

Now, other self-governing professions are paying attention. The organizations for both Alberta's lawyers and doctors have told CBC News they are following the case.

"We have had numerous amounts of calls from them, clarifying exactly what the issue is and what the impact could possibly be," said Moen. "I believe most of them are waiting to see what happens, but they are very interested."

Mihaly first applied for accreditation in 1999, but APEGA said he didn't meet its requirements. He chose not to write any of the technical exams but did take a required ethics exam — and failed it, twice.

In 2008, he took his case to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which ruled APEGA must pay Mihaly $10,000, provide him with a personal mentor and form a committee to re-evaluate his credentials.

The commission says APEGA discriminated against Mihaly.

"In the case at hand, many Eastern European and immigrants from Africa and Asia to Canada do experience disadvantage and discrimination in the workforce because of language, culture and racial prejudice. The imposition of additional exams or requirements without appropriate individualized assessment ... or the necessary flexibility, restricts the ability of immigrants to work in their respective professions and continues to perpetuate disadvantage in these groups," wrote tribunal chair Moosa Jiwaji.

The appeal is set for December.

Corrections

  • An earlier version stated that Ladislav Mihaly is exempted from writing the exams. In fact, the commission ruled that APEGA must form a committee to re-evaluate his credentials.
    Mar 03, 2014 12:51 PM MT