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Black public servants locked in three-year legal battle with Ottawa with no end in sight – Policy Options

January 18, 2024

Their class-action lawsuit accuses the federal government of systematically leaving Black people out of the running for jobs and promotions, dating back to the 1970s.

For years, activist Richard Sharpe warned every top bureaucrat he met that Black public service workers would take the federal government to court if it failed to address anti-Black racism in their workplace.

The former federal bureaucrat could feel discontent snowballing. Despite decades of employment equity law, thousands of Black public servants felt no further ahead in their careers.

The government countered that departments were exceeding their targets for workers called “visible minorities” under the Employment Equity Act of 1986, which placed all employees who aren’t white/Caucasian or Indigenous in that single category. The plaintiffs say this approach hides the particular disparities and disadvantages Black people face on the job.

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