Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So the HRC is good for something

In spite of some of the questionable decisions the Human Rights Commission has made, such as the case against Ezra Levant just for publishing those cartoons, on Friday it reached what I believe to be a tremendous, potentially far-reaching decision for autistic people in the workplace. Michelle Dawson was fired from Canada Post in Montreal after working there for eleven years, after disclosing in 1999 to her employers that she has autism, or what they called 'unpaid leave'.

She took her case to the Canada Human Rights Commission, and since then, she was involved in a long and bitter legal struggle with Canada Post. In the meantime, she has become a writer on science and ethics, particularly in regard to autism, and became part of a university research team, even though she had never been to university herself. In 2005, she became an intervening third-party in the Auton case, where an autism advocacy group run by parents and caregivers tried to tack on a certain type of as yet unproven therapy called Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to the Canada Health Act via the Supreme Court of Canada. The CHA was not meant to mandate a particular treatment for any particular diagnosis and tampering with it may intrude on provincial jurisdictions, yet some people are still trying to alter it.

In the meantime though, she is currently basking in the victory that she did not expect at all. She did not even sue for compensatory damages and did not ask for reinstatement (why would she want to work for them now?). Many other autistic people have spoken, and I just want to add my own congratulations to that. I may even change my mind about the HRC being a PC enforcement agency.

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