Halifax focus of human rights inquiry after racism complaint

An inquiry into a racial discrimination complaint against the Halifax Regional Municipality got underway Thursday.

Complainant, a long-time Halifax employee, says his marriage was focus of racial discrimination

The Halifax Regional Municipality is facing a racial discrimination complaint. (Robert Short/CBC)

An inquiry into a racial discrimination complaint against the Halifax Regional Municipality got underway Thursday.

A Nova Scotia human rights board of inquiry has issued a publication ban on any information that will identify the complainant, who's referred to only as Y.Z.

The complainant is a long-time city employee who is married to someone of a different race. Y.Z. said that relationship made him a target for discrimination, which created a toxic work environment. 

He also claims city managers and supervisors failed to do anything to stop the discrimination. The hearing has not yet heard testimony about what exactly is alleged to have occured.

In 2006, Y.Z. filed a human rights complaint. A year later he went on stress leave and has been on long-term disability.

Y.Z. is claiming $950,000 in compensation for the loss of past and future earnings. An actuarial expert took the stand Thursday to back up those numbers.

When the inquiry resumes in early March, one of the witnesses will be Y.Z.'s wife. But before any more testimony can be heard, board of inquiry chair Lynn Connors has to make a procedural ruling.

Bruce Evans, the complainant's lawyer, wants to enter into evidence existing written statements that might corroborate the allegations of racism.

Those statements were written by someone who worked in the same city department around the same time as Y.Z, but he died in 2007 and cannot be cross-examined.

Randolph Kinghorn, the city's lawyer, is challenging the motion to submit those statements. 

About the Author

Pam Berman


Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca