Human Rights Office

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Human Rights Office

Sandhu v. Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board, 2017 HRTO 445 (CanLII)

Summary:

In this case, the applicant, Mr. Sandhu alleges discrimination and reprisal against the Peel Police Services Board. Mr. Sandhu self-identifies as a South Asian Punjabi Sikh. The applicant speaks English, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi. Mr. Sandhu was hired by Peel Police Services in 1989. His ability to speak so many different languages and understanding of the South Asian community was perceived as an asset to the police force. During his time with the police force, Mr. Sandhu worked in the South Asian unit of the Intelligence Bureau and was promoted to the rank of Detective. As a Detective Sergeant he worked in Diversity Relations from 2009-2012. During his time in the South Asian unit of the Intelligence Bureau and his time in Diversity Relations, Mr. Sandhu was highly regarded for his police work. In addition to these assignments, Mr. Sandhu worked at the Airport Division for eight months. In February 2013, the applicant applied for a promotion to the rank of Inspector, but his supervisors did not recommend him. In this case the adjudicator concluded that the applicant was not recommended for this position because his experience in Diversity Relations and in the South Asian Intelligence unit was discounted. In addition, it was found that Mr. Sandhu’s cultural knowledge and languages were the reason he was placed into these positions to begin with. It was stated that not only was he placed into these positions because of race, he also stated and was asked to stay longer in these positions because of his racial identity. In this case it was stated that work in the South Asian Intelligence unit and Diversity Relations unit was not considered “real police work” and therefore because of this judgment, Mr. Sandhu was discriminated against when applying for a promotion. In addition, it was stated that when assessing Mr. Sandhu for this promotion, his supervisors only evaluated his work with the Airport Division. This was deemed to be the only appropriate/relevant experience, despite Mr. Sandhu’s years of experience working in other units of the Peel Police force. It is important to note that in these other positions, Mr. Sandhu occupied supervisory roles. Ultimately it was concluded that Mr. Sandhu’s race and place of origin were factors in his failure to be recommended for promotion and that he was discriminated again contrary to s. 5 of the Code.

Questions to be Determined:

1. Was the applicant, Mr. Sandhu, the subject of discrimination in employment on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin contrary to the Code?

 2. Was the applicant subject to reprisal in employment on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin contrary to the Code?

Findings:

1. Was the applicant, Mr. Sandhu, the subject of discrimination in employment on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin contrary to the Code?

YES

 2. Was the applicant subject to reprisal in employment on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin contrary to the Code?

NO

Reasoning:

1. In determining the Mr. Sandhu had been subject to discrimination in employment on   the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin contrary to the Code, the adjudicator considered all other reasons why Mr. Sandhu may have not received the            promotion. The rationale was explored point by point in the ruling. In particular, the adjudicator ruled out performance and lack of supervisory experience as reasons why Mr. Sandhu was not promoted.

 First, performance was not an issue (para 113).

 Second, it was not because of lack of time in the Staff Sergeant / Detective Sergeant role. He had been at that rank for four years, not counting the six-month period of  indefinite acting at that rank immediately prior to his promotion (para 114).

  Third, it was not because of his lack of experience as an Acting Inspector; though  Mendyk noted that “some had more”, the applicant’s over 800 hours of acting time was, as acknowledged by Superintendent MacMullen, more than enough to be considered  for promotion. The fact that his acting time was all in Diversity, however, is relevant,  and in fact was specifically raised in the Command Team Assessment as a factor against  recommending the applicant for promotion (para 115).

Fourth, his unique contributions to the Service were acknowledged by all concerned. There is little question that he was, and is, an excellent officer. His skills as an officer, combined with his cultural and linguistic skills, have without doubt assisted the Service   in enhancing its reputation within the community ( para 116).

Fifth, the only specific reason given in his command team assessment was his lack of experience supervising front-line officers. As I have found above, the applicant did in fact have such experience from his time as a Staff Sergeant at the Airport Division.       Furthermore, given the evidence, in particular the experience of the other candidates   for the 2013 promotional process, and the experience at the rank of Staff/Detective Sergeant of those senior officers who testified before me, I do not find that the applicant’s experience supervising front-line officers was as important a factor in recommending an individual for promotion to inspector as has been suggested by the respondent (para 117).

Given the above, my finding is that the applicant’s time in Diversity and South Asian Intelligence was a reason, and in fact the primary reason, he was not recommended for promotion to inspector (para 118).

 Given these findings, the adjudicator then turned their attention to the reasons why Mr. Sandhu was not awarded the promotion. As an overall comment it was decided that the  applicant was not awarded the position because of a devaluing of the units and therefor   work done in the units to which Mr. Sandhu was assigned.        

 I have found above that the South Asian portfolios were generally devalued in the Service, and have accepted that at least one reason for this was the fact that they were associated with the South Asian population. Even though I find that MacMullen and Mendyk did not share such negative views, and despite the fact that they accepted that the applicant’s “instrumental” work had “continually reflected very well on the Peel Regional Police”, I have found that their decision was nonetheless based on the fact that they ultimately did not give much value to this work as a qualification for promotion  (para 136).        

In addition to my finding that work in the South Asian units was devalued in the service, I also accept the evidence that the applicant was assigned to these positions, in part, due to his race, particularly his ethnic origin and place of origin, because of his specific      cultural knowledge and language skills. I further find that the length of time he spent in those portfolios was also due in part to these same factors (para 137).

2. In this case the applicant also alleged reprisal after filing a grievance related to his not  being recommended for promotion. It was ultimately decided he was not subject to reprisal because there was no evidence provided with respect to who, within the Service         had seen a copy of the grievance.

 There was, in fact, no evidence with respect to who, within the Service, ever saw an  actual copy of the grievance. As noted in the May 24, 2013 cover letter from the Peel Regional Police Association accompanying the grievance, it was filed directly with the Police Services Board, rather than the Chief as would be the normal practice, as the Chief was part of the promotional board (para 150).

 Even if I were to accept that specific actions were intentionally taken against the  applicant because he had filed a grievance, if the individuals responsible were not aware the applicant had raised Code issues, there is no basis to make a finding of reprisal under the Code. There is no evidence before me on which I could find that Mendyk, MacMullen, Thorne or Asanin knew that the applicant had raised Code issues in the grievance (para 151).

Remedy:

In this case the remedy has yet to be decided. In September 2017 an interim decision was released regarding the amendment of personal remedies sought by the applicant. A case management conference call has been scheduled to discuss further evidence with       respect to remedy.

(see Sandhu v. Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board, 2017 HRTO 1221 CanLII)