Board Dismisses Complaint Against School Board

first_imgAn independent human rights board of inquiry has dismissed a disability complaint filed by a Sydney woman against the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Sue Anne Snow, a teacher’s aide, alleged the school board discriminated against her when it refused her requests to be assigned to a school in the Sydney area because her eye condition no longer allowed her to drive to work. Ms. Snow, employed as a teacher’s aide since 1997, claimed that board officials instead assigned her to St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Sydney Mines based on her low ranking on the seniority list. But board chair Peter Rogers concluded the school board had offered Ms. Snow a fair accommodation which would have permitted her to vary her work hours in order to conform with a public transit schedule. “I find that the school board was prepared to accommodate Ms. Snow by relaxing the normal hours of work for (teaching assistants) at St. Joseph’s in order to make Ms. Snow’s hours conform conveniently to the bus schedule,” Mr. Rogers said in his decision. “I do not blame Ms. Snow for wanting to work near her home in all the circumstances, but she did not have a legal right to that outcome in my opinion.” Mr. Rogers did point out that the school board was mistaken in its view of the duty to accommodate employees with a disability, indicating that the board did need to consider the impact of a change of work location on employees with disabilities. A complaint is referred to an independent board of inquiry when the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission believes a prima facie case of discrimination is made after an investigation by a human rights officer. The chief judge of the provincial court selects a board chair from a roster and the commissioners ratify the nomination. The decision on the complaint is then in the hands of the independent board. Evidence collected during investigation of a complaint is presented at the hearing by the commission’s legal counsel. The complainant and respondent can make submissions and question witnesses. The board chair then decides whether discrimination has occurred. All parties have a right to appeal decisions of boards of inquiry to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. A copy of the decision is available on the website at