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

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
Island Health says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most of its communities

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

The Sybil Andrews Cottage property in Willow Point, along with the Haig-Brown House property, have both been assigned Community Heritage Designation. Mirror File Photo
Sybil Andrews cottage and Haig-Brown House get full heritage status

Designation offers both protection as well as opening up future funding opportunities

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
John Dillon Brown set off to conclude an out-of-court settlement the day he disappeared

Trial of Richard Alexander continues in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

B.C. Ferries’ sixth Island-class vessel launches at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. The ship is the second of two that will service the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route starting in 2022. (Photo submitted)
Second hybrid ferry for Nanaimo-Gabriola route launched overseas

Island-class vessel will enter service in 2022

Most Read