We reported previously on the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal in University of British Columbia v. Kelly. In that decision, the Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the University of British Columbia had discriminated against Dr. Carl Kelly, who had been enrolled in the Family Medicine Residency Program in the Faculty of Medicine.  Dr. Kelly had difficulty in the program because he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a Non-verbal Learning Disorder. One of the issues was whether the University of British Columbia had taken proper steps to accommodate Dr. Kelly’s disabilities.

The Human Rights Tribunal decided that Dr. Kelly had not been accommodated to the extent required by the duty to accommodate, and Dr. Kelly was awarded damages, which included an award of $75,000 for injury to dignity, feeling, and self-respect.

On a judicial review of the decision in September 2015, [2015 BCSC 1731], the British Columbia Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal on the merits of the complaint of discrimination. The court, however, set aside the award of $75,000 for injury to dignity, feeling, and self-respect.

Prior to this decision, the highest previous award by the Human Rights Tribunal for injury to dignity, feeling, and self-respect was $35,000. The court confirmed that there is no cap on the amount that can be awarded under this section of the Human Rights Code. Despite that, the court stated that “the decision must still be based on evidence and reason and in my view that has not occurred in this case.” The court concluded that the award of $75,000 was patently unreasonable and it was set aside, with the issue being remitted to the Human Rights Tribunal for a determination of the proper amount of the award.  

The court did not state that the award could not exceed the previous high of $35,000. The effect of the court’s decision is that the Human Rights Tribunal must have evidence and provide proper reasoning for its award for injury to dignity, feeling, and self-respect.

It is possible that this case will still result in a new high for an award for injury to dignity, feeling, and self-respect. We will report the result when the Human Rights Tribunal makes its decision.