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Montreal, April 15, 2011 --- The hearings before the tribunal of First Instance in the case of Me Yacine Agnaou v. Deputy Minister of Justice Canada concluded on December 16, 2010.

The case involves allegations of systemic discrimination in the promotion of traditionally disadvantaged groups who work for the federal public service. The employer requires two years of experience of human resource supervision in the federal public service as a condition of eligibility for a management position. Mr. Agnaou, a Crown prosecutor, was refused at the pre-selection stage since he did not meet this requirement, despite having pertinent experience in management. Informal discussions with the hiring manager failed to resolve the situation, leading Mr. Agnaou to sue Justice Canada before the Public Service Staffing Tribunal.

During the final days of the hearings, the Tribunal heard the following witnesses:

  • Micheline Van Erum: hiring manager, in charge of the challenged staffing decision, recently promoted from her position as Director General of Justice Canada’s Quebec Regional Office to Assistant Deputy Minister of the department;
  • Johanne D’Auray: former Director General of Justice Canada’s Quebec Regional Office and former Assistant Deputy Minister of the department, recently appointed to the Tax Court of Canada; and
  • Anne La France: former staffing chief at the Human Resources Department of the Quebec Regional Office, recently promoted to a management position at this unit.
  • Contrary to its previous position, the Public Service Commission did not present any witness to explain its policy on the incorporation of employment equity principles in its staffing processes. The Commission’s reason was that this policy is clear and easy to understand.

    In addition, specific data on visible minority (VM) representation in supervisory positions at Justice Canada were added to the file. The file was obtained by Mr. Agnaou under the Access to Information Act, and the data revealed that at the time when this staffing decision was challenged, none of the 29 supervisory positions in the EX (Executive) category was held by a VM person (a representation rate of 0%). In addition, only 10 of the 236 supervisors in the LA (Legal Advisor) category belonged to this group (4.2%).

    The Tribunal released a schedule for the filing of final written arguments for the parties. Today is the final deadline, which is three years after the filing of the original complaint. The Tribunal will then review the case and render a decision. Meanwhile, the written submissions of the parties can be accessed by the public by contacting the Tribunal’s Registry.