Tribunal member Steven Adamson wrote in a screening decision Wednesday, B.C.’s Human Rights Code “only protects people from discrimination” and does not apply to those who prefer not to wear a mask. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Tribunal member Steven Adamson wrote in a screening decision Wednesday, B.C.’s Human Rights Code “only protects people from discrimination” and does not apply to those who prefer not to wear a mask. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Can’t wear a mask? Be prepared to prove it, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal rules

The body says it has received ‘a large number’ of mask-wearing complaints alleging discrimination

After receiving a large volume of complaints B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has set the record straight about the rights of people who refuse to wear masks.

People who report being told to wear a mask as discrimination must be ready to verify the disability that prevents them from doing so.

Tribunal member Steven Adamson wrote in a screening decision Wednesday, B.C.’s Human Rights Code “only protects people from discrimination based on certain personal characteristics.”

He said it doesn’t apply to those who refuse to wear a mask “because they believe wearing a mask is ‘pointless’ or because they disagree that wearing masks helps to protect the public during the pandemic.”

READ MORE: Masks mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces

This, in response to a grocery store customer who filed a human rights complaint after a security guard asked her to wear a mask on Sept. 28.

At the time, the province’s mask mandate was not yet in effect.

The woman refused to disclose why she would not wear a mask, other than claiming they cause “breathing difficulties” and “anxiety.”

The grocery store stood firm on its mask-wearing policy. The woman left the store, alleging she heard employees call the measure a “hoax.”

Adamson has dismissed the complaint.

RELATED: No mask, no service? Businesses have the right to require masks on customers

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the tribunal has received “a large number” of mask-wearing complaints.

B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner advises, “if a person claims a mask exception, take them at their word. Proof should not be required.”

However, filing a human rights complaint is a different matter, Adamson said. It requires evidence.

“Any claim of disability discrimination arising from a requirement to wear a mask must begin by establishing that the complainant has a disability that interferes with their ability to wear the mask.”

The tribunal has not yet defined the scope of medical information a customer should be required to reveal in order to be exempt from wearing a mask.

Adamson said a future ruling will likely provide more clarification on that matter.

READ MORE: Abbotsford parents protest mandatory masks in school (SLIDESHOW)



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

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

Just Posted

Vanderhoof municipal office sign on Burrard Avenue. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof council discuss requests from NWRI, airport, BC Wildfire

District of Vanderhoof held their regular public meeting of council on April… Continue reading

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

To send in Letters to the Editor, email aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com
Letter: Increased aggression towards staff at Omineca Medical clinic

Dr. Davy Dhillon writes letter on behalf of the clinic

Basin Snow Water Index map for Apr. 1, 2021. (BC River Forecast Centre photo/Lakes District News)
Snowpack above normal for Upper Fraser West basin

Snowpack assessments for early April reveals above normal levels for northwestern British… Continue reading

Four young women prepare to model Magic Wand dresses at a fashion show. Magic Wand provides grad dresses and tuxedos for a nominal fee. (Submitted File Photo)
Nominations available for Cindrella Dreams Program in Vanderhoof

New organizer excited to help graduates with formal wear

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

HousingHub financing to encourage more developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read