Chris Hughes has won a Human Rights Tribunal case after being denied a job when he admitted to suffering from depression. (Facebook)

Chris Hughes has won a Human Rights Tribunal case after being denied a job when he admitted to suffering from depression. (Facebook)

Victoria man wins record-breaking Human Rights Tribunal case

After 14 years Chris Hughes won a case after facing discrimination for depression

A Victoria man has set three national records linked to Human Rights Tribunal cases.

Chris Hughes is the first person to win three Human Rights Tribunal cases, with the longest individual case in Canadian history and with potentially the largest payout.

For more than 14 years Hughes battled cases against former employers who discriminated against him in relation to his depression. This long process has cost him most of his funds, and caused anxiety and debt that have kept him couch surfing for many years.

In May 2019, Hughes learned he won the third case, this one against a government agency formerly known as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

READ MORE: Victoria man wins job he was denied after saying he had depression

“I always expected to win it, I didn’t jump up and down,” Hughes said. “It was more of a relief.”

Troubles began for Hughes while working for the CBSA in 2000 — now two separate agencies, the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency.

During his employment, he noticed internal hires of staff much younger and less experienced than himself when competing for similar positions. This prompted Hughes to file an initial complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal against the CBSA for age discrimination in 2005, shortly after which he felt forced to resign. Hughes said this case and ensuing employment problems continued until 2008, causing him anxiety and depression which prompted an addition to the initial complaint for mental health and age discrimination.

In the meantime, Hughes applied for other jobs with Border Services and also with Transport Canada.

Hughes was the top candidate for a marine intelligence officer position with Transport Canada, but after telling the panel of his mental health experiences he was cut from the list. His previous employers at the CBSA also refused to provide him any references.

READ MORE: Victoria man has seen no funding after winning a Human Rights Tribunal case against Transport Canada

As a result, Hughes was denied the job and was unable to find a similar career role, which spiraled him into a word of debt and anxiety.

Hughes filed a public service commission staffing complaint to get copies of the board notes from the interview in 2006, but did not see original copies of the notes until 2013. It was then that he discovered the notes had been altered to make Hughes look less desirable. This prompted him to approach the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal with his case against Transport Canada in 2007.

Hughes worked for a the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada for a short period of time starting in 2007, during which he asked for additional time and accommodations for his depression and anxiety. When these were refused, he filed a third complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which resulted in a liability decision in 2012. Hughes received a confidential settlement for this case in January 2015.

ALSO READ: Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

In June 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal sided with Hughes about the Transport Canada case, saying that he had faced discrimination when he was denied the position in 2006. He was awarded $500,000 to make up for five years of missed payments; after taxes, the sum totalled $325,000 which he received in March 2019. The tribunal also mandated that Hughes be hired as a marine intelligence officer when a position becomes available.

Currently, he is going through the security clearance process for the reserved position, but he worries that his deplorable credit score, a direct result of remaining jobless, will bar him from being cleared.

In the meantime, at the end of May 2019 Hughes learned that the Human Rights Tribunal had finally sided with his CBSA complaint from 2005, a record-setting 14 years, four months and 10 days for a result. While a judiciary review must still set the final implications of this win, the damages and lost wages from the case could sit at $2 million.

“I feel vindicated,” Hughes said. “I’ve been joking with my friends that I’m undefeated. Now I’ve just been working on getting healthier, mentally and physically.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

BC Supreme Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kendra Willems, seen here Nov. 5, created a Facebook page to help facilitate social supports such as clothing donations in an informal manner that supplements existing supports and charities. (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)
Skeena Voices | ‘We could all use that kind of goodness’

Kendra Willems, new to Terrace, founds charitable Facebook page

Firefighters work to cool a semi truck engine that caught fire at the corner of Eby St. and Hwy 16 around 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 26
Semi truck engine catches fire in Terrace

Hwy 16 briefly closed between Sande Overpass and Eby St.

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross at his swearing in on Thursday (Nov. 26), with his wife, Tracey, left, mother, Frieda, and grandson, Parker. (Ellis Ross photo)
Ellis Ross sworn in as Skeena MLA

Ceremonies happening virtually rather than all in-person in Victoria

Several students in the Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School community have tested positive for COVID-19. (Nisga’s Lisims Government photo)
Students at Nisga’a school test positive for COVID-19

Families with students requested to self-isolate

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Most Read