The Quebec Human Rights Commission has ruled that Bell Helicopter discriminated against a prospective intern after the man was refused work because he is a Haitian citizen.
By enforcing U.S. security rules about foreign workers, the American-owned helicopter manufacturer infringed on a Quebec man's right to employment when it turned him away for an internship because he held dual citizenship with Canada and Haiti, the provincial commission said in a ruling made public Thursday.
The Haitian-born man has lived in Canada for 30 years and is a Canadian citizen. He applied for an internship at Bell Helicopter's Mirabel factory as part of a training program, and was initially accepted, but then told he didn't qualify because he is a Haitian citizen.
The company's policy clearly violates basic human rights, and that's why the commission sided with the complainant, explained Quebec human rights commissioner Gaétan Cousineau. "We cannot force the United States to change their rules, but these rules have discriminatory impact," he said on Thursday.
Under United States International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), people who hold citizenship from 25 countries including Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, China, North Korea, Iran and Syria cannot work on U.S. military contracts, a rule that violates Canada's human rights laws, the commission said.
ITAR rules include requirements that are "inconsistent with the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms," the ruling said. "More specifically, they infringe the right to equality without discrimination based on ethnic or national origin," the commission said.
Bell Helicopter and the complainant reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount, the commission said.
As a U.S.-owned company, Bell Helicopter must apply the American security legislation, even though the company has in the past asked Washington to waive the policy for its Quebec operations.
In 2006, Bell Helicopter banned 24 employees from working on an $849 million contract for American helicopters because of ITAR rules.
At the time, prime minister Stephen Harper said he was worried about the policy and that the federal government has lobbied the American administration to change how the security policy applies to Canadian citizens.