Tribunal says no to in-house lawyer asking for job back

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has denied a request from the head of a corporate legal department to be reinstated in her job while her application alleging discrimination is still in play.

In January, Baljit Kaura filed a request for an interim remedy with the HRTO asking she be reinstated in her role of head of legal and compliance and chief compliance officer of PIMCO Canada Corp. She had earlier filed an application alleging discrimination with respect to employment because of sex, gender expression, and reprisal.

In the request, Kaura, who represented herself, stated she “had a prominent profile in the legal and compliance community” and said she would “suffer loss of reputation and credibility in the industry if she is not reinstated.”

She submitted that unless she’s reinstated on an interim basis, she will be out of touch with regulatory reforms in the industry and with PIMCO Canada’s legal and compliance needs, which would make it more difficult to resume her duties at a later time. In addition, she said it would be more difficult for her and the company to have a smooth reinstatement if they replace her.

In her main application of discrimination, Kaura alleges she suffered “discrimination and reprisals,” which included failing to promote her and eventually the termination of her employment, because she raised concerns to her supervisor that some employees were making negative comments and expressing negative stereotypes about women. However, she didn’t file any declarations of those who had first-hand knowledge of the situation.
The tribunal’s power to order a respondent in a case to do something is usually dependent upon a finding that it has violated the Human Rights Code. Interim remedies are considered extraordinary in that they constitute an order in the absence of a finding that the code has been violated. That puts the onus on the applicant to prove the interim remedy should be awarded.

Adjudicator Douglas Sanderson denied Kaura’s request. “The tribunal appreciates that there are likely negative impacts on the applicant from the loss of her employment. Whether or not the actions of the respondent were discriminatory, the effects of losses in income, status and self-esteem following a dismissal are not to be minimized. However, the applicant’s circumstances pending the hearing of her application are similar to those faced by many applicants who allege a discriminatory termination of employment.”

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