Posted on October 1, 2022

Black Civil Servants File Discrimination Complaint Against Federal Government With United Nations

David Thurton, CBC, September 28, 2022

Black civil servants are ramping up their pressure on the federal government by filing a complaint with the United Nations alleging Ottawa violated their civil rights.

The complaint by the Black Class Action Secretariat is being sent to the UN Commission for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

It follows a class action lawsuit the same group filed against the federal government accusing it of systemic racism, discrimination and employee exclusion.

“This complaint details systemic and anti-Black racism in hiring and promotions within Canada’s federal public service,” said Nicholas Marcus Thompson, executive director of the Black Class Action Secretariat.

“With this complaint, we are elevating Canada’s past failures and failure to act in the present to an international body.”

Thompson told a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday that the secretariat hopes the UN special rapporteur investigates its claims and calls on Canada to meet its international obligations to Black employees by establishing a plan to increase opportunities for Black women in the government and develop specific targets for hiring and promoting Black workers.

Current and former Black civil servants have filed a suit against the federal government alleging discrimination that led to poor treatment and being overlooked for promotion.

Amnesty International threw its weight behind the complaint, noting that 70 per cent of the 1,500 employees who have joined the class action are Black women.

“This is contrary to the feminist commitments made by the Canadian government,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

In addition to supporting the complaint, Nivyabandi also called on the government to establish a designated category under the Employment Equity Act for Black employees. Canada has launched a task force to review this legislation.