A decision by an independent human rights board of inquiry has found that a former employee of the Black Educators Association was discriminated against.
Rachel Brothers claimed the association wrongfully fired her because of discrimination based on age, race and colour.
The complaint was referred to a board of inquiry after being screened by the Human Rights Commission. Ms. Brothers was fired from her position with the association after almost one year on the job.
The Black Educators Association was founded in 1969 to help African Nova Scotian communities develop strategies toward an equitable education system.
Chair Donald Murray says Ms. Brothers was undermined by association staff whose “colourist thinking” and behaviour created a toxic work environment at the head office in Halifax and the Annapolis Valley regional office in Kentville where Ms. Brothers was employed as a regional educator.
“It is suggested by colourist thinking that the closer one’s skin tone is to that of a pure white, the better access one will have to the jobs and accommodation and opportunities available to actual ‘white’ people,” wrote Mr. Murray. “At the same time, colourist thinking suggests that the more visibly black, or more visibly East Indian, or more visibly American Indian, or more visibly Asian, one is, the greater potential there will be for discriminatory distinctions to be made based on ‘colour’.”
“This decision addresses an important human rights issue,” said Tracey Williams, director and CEO of the commission. “The commission needs to explore this sensitive subject to better understand its impact and identify ways we can be of assistance.”
The Black Educators Association has been ordered to pay Ms. Brothers $11,000 in general damages and lost income.
To learn more about the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and to read the full decision in this case, visit http://humanrights.gov.ns.ca .