Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rules sexual harassment complaint may proceed

·2 min read
Christine Shupe filed a complaint with Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Christine Shupe filed a complaint with Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has overturned a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Board of Inquiry decision to dismiss a sexual harassment complaint over a clerical error.

"I'm just so grateful that at least we have our day," said Christine Shupe, who filed her sexual harassment complaint in 2018.

Shupe claimed she was sexually harassed on the job by her former boss, Wyatt Redmond, at a recycling depot in Spryfield. Her allegations of sexual harassment have not been tested in court.

Staff at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission investigated the complaint for three years. When the case was referred to the board of inquiry, it was dismissed because staff named Beaver Enviro Depot as the respondent instead of the business's registered name — 2557617 Nova Scotia Ltd.

The board said the commission failed to check if Beaver Enviro Depot was a legal entity, which could have been confirmed by checking the Registry of Joint Stock Companies, Nova Scotia's official registry of businesses.

"Make sure that when you're filing a complaint against your employer ... get their correct business name," said Shupe. "That's what I wasn't told and that's what the commission did not do for us."

'There will be justice'

Shupe appealed the decision to dismiss her case last year. In its decision posted Friday, the appeal court ruled the board of inquiry had jurisdiction to amend the complaint to add the numbered company as a respondent to the complaint.

It noted a section of the Human Rights Act "... expressly gave the Board of Inquiry jurisdiction to add a party 'specified by the board,' subject to the statutory conditions of notice and opportunity to be heard. Here, the Numbered Company had notice and an opportunity to be heard. The Board's ruling that it had no jurisdiction is wrong in law."

The court of appeal ruled Shupe could appeal, the dismissal of her complaint would be overturned and the complaint would be amended to include the name of the numbered business.

Shupe said she expects to meet with her lawyer next week to discuss the next steps.

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