Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, January 23, 2012 --- A Moroccan man who was refused a job as a security guard at the École polytechnique de Montréal and who won his case before the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission (CDPDJ), may have to pursue his case against the institution out of his own pocket.

In 2005, Mr. Omar Chaârani applied for the position of security guard at the École polytechnique. With six year’s private security experience in Rabat, Morocco and two in Quebec, he attended an interview and underwent a medical exam, but the institution rejected his application. In 2006, a new head of security at École polytechnique the carried out further recruitment; Mr. Chaârani applied and was appointed as a security guard.

It was then that he discovered a number of pieces of evidence – including statements from colleagues – that the reason he had not been employed in 2005 was because A.O. did not want Muslim or Arabs working in his service. Mr. Chaârani also noted that he was, in 2006, the only immigrant working a as security guard. He was also the first guard from an ethnic minority.

Armed with this information, Mr. Chaârani filed complaints for racial discrimination with the internal authorities, including the Ombudsman de l’École Polytechnique, who subsequently rejected them. In July 2007, he instructed the CRARR to file a complaint with the CDPDJ on his behalf.

Four years later, in May 2011, the CPDPJ decided in his favour, recommending that the École Polytechnique pay him $5,000 in moral damages and A.O $5,000 in punitive damages. Furthermore, the CPDPJ recommended the institution “accord him... non-competitive seniority retroactively from June 2005 as well as the all the rights and privileges the position carries”.

Concerned over the four year wait for the decision, Mr. Chaârani is confused by the CDPDJ silence over the fact that, because of his candidature being rejected in 2005, he is still working on a non-permanent and on-call basis. Furthermore, the CDPDJ has not pronounced on the material damages and loss of salary during 2005 and refuses to provide explanations for this fact.

According to his union’s calculations based on the 2005 salary of the position, Mr. Chaârani should be accorded material damages worth thousands of dollars more than what is being claimed some 6 years after the act.

The CRARR and Mr. Chaârani are also worried by the amount of moral and punitive damages that they consider to be unusually low given that, on other cases, the CDPDJ has awarded moral damages of up to $15,000.

“After five years of lost earnings due to racism and waiting for justice, the Human Rights Commission has recommended an amount that is worth some $2,000 a year,” notes Mr. Chaârani.
“It’s a worrying precedent to see that the Commission seems to be ignoring the fact that I am still suffering the consequences of racial discrimination suffered in 2005 and won’t even recommend that I receive the salary I would have earned were it not for the discrimination in the handling of my application.”

CRARR lawyer Me Aymar Missakila says the decision is cause for serious concern: “We are surprised there is no mention of the loss of salary or non-wage benefits that Mr. Chaârani is still suffering today or material damages. We are also concerned by the level of punitive and moral damages awarded because they do not reflect the severity of the case.

“In the face of such modest damages, some would say the Commission is sending the wrong message over the price to be paid for racial discrimination in the workplace, particular since the act in question has been revealed as intentional.”

In a summer 2011 decision on a separate CRARR case, involving a young Arab male who was denied a position of toilet cleaner for reasons of racial discrimination in 2008, the CDPDJ recommended the payment of $13,000 in moral and punitive and $5,000 in material damages.