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Alberta Women Win Case Against CN


by Jessica Earle,

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has sided with three Jasper women who lost their positions with the Canadian National Railway in 2005 after they refused to accept transfers to British Columbia, citing family reasons.

In three separate rulings, the tribunal determined Cindy Richards, Kasha Whyte and Denise Seeley should be back on the job, and should be reimbursed for lost pay and benefits incurred since their dismissal. CN has also been ordered to grant them an additional $35,000 each in compensation.

Representatives from the Commission say the cases demonstrate that parents are protected from discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

In Richards' case, the tribunal ruled, "CN's managers never met with her. They never allowed her the opportunity to present and explain her needs, nor did they ask any questions to fully understand her request."

One local labour lawyer believes while these rulings will not change employers' ability to demand transfers, they do set a precedence on how to go about doing it.

"Any employer can still justify a particular practice such as requiring transfers if they can prove that it's necessary for their operation and they've done everything they can, reasonably, to accommodate," said Daniel Bokenfohr.

All three women say they very pleased with the decisions, which came down on Wednesday.

Richards will move back to Jasper after relocating to the East Coast.

Whyte and Seeley also say they're eager to get back to work.

CN will only say it is reviewing the ruling. There is no word yet on whether the railroad is planning to appeal the decision.        

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