For immediate release.


Montreal - On Monday, October 24, 2022, the Black Class Action Secretariat in partnership with Amnesty International Canada-Francophone, will make an important announcement regarding the next step of their joint action regarding justice for black francophone Canadians facing human rights violations in the public service of Canada.


The Black Class Action Secretariat (the Secretariat) is a non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Black systemic racism in Canada. The Secretariat is coordinating the class action lawsuit of Black federal employees known as Nicholas Marcus Thompson and Al V. Her Majesty the Queen, filed in the Federal Court of Canada on December 2, 2020. The $2.5 billion claim filed by current and former black public servants seeks damages for "the unfair practice of excluding black employees because of systemic discrimination" dating back to the 1970s. The systemic discrimination class action further seeks that a fund of compensation be created, along with a commission on black equity that will be used to implement solutions to address institutional discrimination.


Canada has committed in following the recommendations of the 2017 UN Working Group of Experts, which sounded the alarm about the structural anti-Black racism, which they observed plagues many Canadian institutions. However, despite claiming to promote multiculturalism and diversity within the federal government, we have witnessed evidence that Ottawa does not take the impacts of racism for black federal employees seriously.

It's great that our federal government is making significant investments in Black Canadians. Now, how about this same government actually addressing the widespread and entrenched systemic anti-Black racism within its own ranks, the federal public service!

Honorable Marlene Jennings, P.C.

Former Member of Parliament , Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine


On September 29, 2022, the Secretariat filed a complaint with the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The complaint details historical and ongoing human rights violations against Black employees in Canada's federal public service, which violate the right to nondiscrimination enshrined in international conventions.


For too long, Black employees have faced dehumanizing experiences of exclusion and discrimination by the government. Amnesty International supports the work of the Black Class Action Secretariat to bring justice to federal and black federal employees in Canada and prevent further harm from occurring in the future.

France-Isabelle Langlois

Executive Director of Amnesty International Canada Francophone


Less than a week later, on October 4, 2022, the federal government filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss the class action lawsuit brought by Black public service employees on jurisdictional grounds. The federal government believes that the court has no jurisdiction over the case and that the claim should instead be pursued through labor grievances or at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which have failed Black workers for decades.


The federal government is talking out of both sides of its mouth. The government's suggestion would be laughable if it weren't so serious. Black employees at all levels of government know of the inability and unwillingness of human rights commissions and unions to deal with ordinary racial discrimination complaints, let alone those of a systemic nature.

Alain Babineau

Director of Operations-Quebec for the Secretariat


More than two years after it first sounded the alarm about anti-Black racism in the public service, the federal government is now using blocking tactics to deny us our access to justice. Nicholas Marcus Thompson, the Executive Director of the Secretariat, says:

The damage that black workers have and continue to face is real and happening now. Some of our class members have shared that they have had suicide attempts. They thought about ending their lives because it became so difficult, so difficult to show up for work every day.

The Secretariat wishes to raise awareness among the Francophone population of the systemic

discrimination suffered by Black federal employees over the past 50 years, as well as to inform Black Francophone federal employees and encourage them to join our recourse. We want to show strength and solidarity with the main actors of human rights in Quebec.


The Red Coalition unequivocally supports the Secretariat's efforts to seek redress from the federal government for 50 years of systemic discrimination suffered by its Black employees. We believe this class action lawsuit also sends a very strong message to other levels of government where Black workers serve the public. We are watching you!

Joel De Bellefeuille

Founder & Executive Director of the Red Coalition


A press conference will be held:

Date: October 24, 2022; Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: 50 Sainte-Catherine Street West in Montreal; (Atrium of the House of Sustainable

Development)


The event will include a live announcement and a question-and-answer session. Black employees

who are victims of discriminatory treatment will be on site for individual interviews.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 28, 2022


Executive Director of the BCAS Nicholas Marcus Thompson announces complaint.


OTTAWA – Today, representatives of the Black Class Action Secretariat (BCAS), together with partner Amnesty International Canada (Amnesty), announced the submission of a complaint to the UN Commission for Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.


The BCAS and Amnesty have joined forces to shed light on the historic and ongoing human rights violations faced by Black employees in Canada’s federal public service. These workers have endured anti-Black hate and anti-Black racism, both covertly and overtly, over the course of decades in the service of their country. This is contrary to the right to non-discrimination found within several international conventions ratified by the Government of Canada.


On behalf of all Black workers, we are elevating Canada’s past and ongoing failures to the United Nations. Black Canadians are suffering and we will be relentless in our pursuit of justice on their behalf. Nicholas Marcus Thompson Executive Director of the BCAS

Each of us believes the government of Canada must be held accountable.


Together the BCAS and Amnesty are calling on the Special Rapporteur to investigate Canada’s violation of its obligation to abide by these international treaties. This includes calling on the federal government to:


· meet its international obligations,

· establish a coherent plan to address hiring and promotional gaps for Black Canadian workers,

· develop a plan to increase opportunities for professional development, and,

· initiate a study and report on systemic discrimination in labour and employment to help identify why this persistent culture exists.


Black women make up 70% of Federal employees who have come forward with allegations of discrimination in the public service. These experiences are not only an affront to the inherent dignity of the people who uphold the Government’s functions daily. They are contrary to Canada’s obligation under international law to eliminate discrimination in employment. We unequivocally support Black Class Action’s call for justice, and urge the government not wait for the UN’s response to start enacting much-needed change. Federal workers, and millions of Canadians who rely on their efforts, cannot wait. Ketty Nivyabandi Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

Canada’s New Democratic Party, under the leadership of Jagmeet Singh and Matthew Green, MP – Hamilton Centre, have joined with fellow workers advocates, including the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in supporting the objectives of this complaint and the pursuit of justice for Black workers.


“Black Canadians continue to face barriers and discrimination by our institutions and the blocking and continuous double speak from the federal government as it relates to Black workers in the public service fighting for fairness is appalling” said Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. Not only does the federal government need to get to the table to respect Black public service workers who have faced and continue to face discrimination at work, they must take a leadership role in understanding how policies continue to impact Black communities and contribute to systemic racism. New Democrats support the Black Class Action Secretariat in their efforts and recommit to fighting anti-Black racism in the public service and all our institutions.”


BACKGROUND

In December 2020, a class action was filed against the Canadian government on behalf of more than 45,000 Black federal public service employees who have been subjected to systemic racism, discrimination, and employee exclusion.  


To continue the push for justice, this complaint to the UN outlines the Canadian government’s failure to protect Black Canadians has contravened:


· the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

· the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

· the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, and,

· the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


With over 1,500 class members from across Canada, the Black Class Action has garnered the support of major international organizations like Amnesty International and Canadian associations, including the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. Click here to view the full press conference.


For further information or media inquiries please contact:


Black Class Action Secretariat

media@blackclassaction.ca


Amnesty International Canada:

media@amnesty.ca

On June 23, 2022 Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné of the Federal Court gave new directions regarding the certification hearing that was scheduled to take place September 21, 2022.


The order is as follows:


  1. Motion regarding overlapping submissions due October 1, 2022.

  2. Certification record of Defendant due November 1, 2022.

  3. The Plaintiffs’ reply is due November 15, 2022.

  4. Cross-examinations will take place from November 15, 2022 to January 31st, 2023.

  5. All motions are to be filed by end of February 13th ,2022.

  6. Written representations for the Plaintiffs are due March 7, 2023

  7. Written representations for the Defendant are due April 10, 2023

  8. Plaintiffs must complete their reply by April 21, 2023.

  9. The certification hearing will now take place in person in Toronto on May 8, 2023 for a period of 5 days.

All media inquiries should be directed to media@blackclassaction.ca