The court hears arguments in case #28743, Bell Canada v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Femmes Action, and Canadian Human Rights Commission, on January 23, 2003.
In the early 1990s, the Canadian Telephone Employees Association (CTEA), the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), and Femmes Action filed complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Bell Canada. These organizations alleged that Bell, in contravention of the Canadian Human Rights Act, was paying female employees less than male employees who were performing work of equal value. The Canadian Human Rights Commission referred the complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for adjudication. Bell objected on a variety of grounds and there followed a long and complicated series of applications for judicial review, judgments, appeals, and motions before the Tribunal itself. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in 2001 that the Tribunal could proceed with investigating the original complaints, despite Bell’s continued protestations. Bell is now appealing that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which must decide if the Tribunal has the authority and jurisdiction to hear the original complaints.
Lawyer Roy L. Heenan presents arguments on behalf of Bell Canada and responds to questions from the justices.