The claim was filed 28 years ago by female employees of Canada Post with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”), alleging discrimination due to discrepancies in pay between workers in clerical positions, which were female dominated, compared with those in the male dominated postal operations group.
In a 2005 decision, Tribunal awarded the workers $150 million in damages plus interest. The Tribunal’s decision was overturned by the Federal Court in 2008 and this was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court overturned the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision on Thursday.
The decision could mean that Canada Post will be liable for up to $250 million in damages to clerical staff who worked for Canada Post between 1983-2002.
The Ontario Pay Equity Act (the “Act”) requires the implementation of equal pay for work of comparable value, based on comparing male and female job classes as defined in the Act. In 1987 the gender wage gap was 36%, the most recent data indicates that the gap is now at 29%.
In January 2011 a Wage Gap program was initiated by the Ontario Pay Equity Office to determine whether gender discrimination in pay practices is still prevalent. Ontario Workplaces with more than 500 employees who have not recently been visited by a review officer are being contacted first. Small and medium sized workplaces will follow.
There is no limitation period under the Act, and employers can be liable for up to 20 years of arrears plus interest. If your organization has (1) never done Pay Equity formally, or (2) grown past the minimum of 10 employees over the last 2 decades, you may want to seek legal advice.