A hockey association in Brandon, Man., violated a boy's human rights by refusing to let him play hockey in reprisal for a previous rights complaint filed by his father, an adjudicator says.
In a decision released Monday, independent adjudicator Lynn Harrison ruled that the Brandon Youth Hockey Association violated the Human Rights Code two years earlier when it refused to let Ken-Allen Whitecloud Richardplay on any of its teams because his father, Hank Richard, was pursuing an active human-rights complaint against the league.
Richard's original complaint, filed on his son's behalf, questioned the amount of ice time the boy, now 13,was getting. The father alleged the association was discriminating against his son on the basis of his aboriginal ancestry.
The original complaint was dismissed in Sept. 2004 by the Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners, which decidedthere was insufficient evidence to support Richard's claims.
But when the hockey association refused to let the boy register for any team because of the first complaint, which was ongoing at the time, the father filed the second complaint in Nov. 2004, alleging reprisal.
In her ruling, Harrison wrote that the association violated Section 20 of the Human Rights Code, which addresses reprisal.
"Basically if you deny a benefit or harm someone in some way, or threaten to do so because they have filed a human rights complaint â¦ you can be found to have been in violation of the code just for doing that," said Sarah Lugtig, a lawyer for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, on Friday.
Complainants must be protected: commission
Lugtig said Section 20 is important because people should not be afraid to assert their rights without fear of retaliation.
"It's small comfort to them that they can come to us about the original problem if, in the end, they lose their job or they can't play hockey or what have you," she said.
'It's small comfort to them that they can come to us about the original problem if, in the end, they lose their job or they can't play hockey or what have you.'-Sarah Lugtig, a lawyer for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission
"So it's to make sure someone can come to the commission, file a complaint and have that complaint dealt with, without suffering in some way."
Lugtig said that this was the first adjudication ruling in Manitoba with respect to reprisal. She added that other reprisal complaints have been filed and resolved without going to adjudication.
Harrison ordered the association pay $2,000 to Richard in trust for his son "to compensate him for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect," according to a commission news release.
Last month, Harrison ruled in favour of two Winnipeg teen sisters who had filed a human-rights complaint against the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association for refusing to let them try out for the senior boys' hockey team at their high school.
Harrison ruled that Jesse and Amy Pasternak, 17, had suffered sex discrimination because of an MHSAA policy requiring athletes to play on teams of the same gender, assuming teams for both genders exist at a school.
The MHSAA says it plans to appeal the ruling.