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.
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.
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
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.