On May 10, 2006 the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission found that Lindsay Willow was discriminated against on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, awarding her more than $27,000 in damages. Her principal and a fellow teacher had falsely accused her of inappropriate behaviour with a female student and the allegations affected her health and her career prospects.1
That year, she was Grand Marshall for the Halifax Pride Parade.
Human Rights Commission Hearing Will Examine Complaint Based on Perceived Sexual Orientation
An independent human rights board of inquiry will consider the complaint of a Hammonds Plains woman that she was improperly accused of inappropriate behaviour with a female student while working as a physical education teacher at Halifax West High School in September, 2000.
Lindsay Jane Willow complained to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in August, 2001, that her colleagues believed she was a lesbian and made the accusation as a result. Ms. Willow alleged that, even though the Halifax Regional Police Service found no basis to proceed with an investigation of the allegation, her career prospects were damaged and she continued to be harassed by colleagues.
Fellow teachers John Orlando and Rick Kitley approached vice-principal Don Clarke after they observed Ms. Willow and a female student leaving a locker room together. Mr. Orlando alleged that he had noticed Ms. Willow in a bathroom inside the empty locker room before she and the female student came out into the corridor. Based on Mr. Orlando's comments, school administration contacted the police who separately interviewed Ms. Willow and the female student before concluding there was nothing further to investigate.
A complaint is referred to an independent board of inquiry when the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission believes a prima facie case of discrimination is made after an investigation by a human rights officer. The chief judge of the Provincial Court selects a board chair from a roster and the commissioners ratify the nomination. The decision on the complaint is then in the hands of the independent board.
Evidence collected during investigation of a complaint is presented at the hearing by the commission's legal counsel. The complainant and respondent can make submissions and question witnesses. The board chair then decides whether discrimination has occurred.
All parties have a right to appeal decisions of boards of inquiry to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
Lindsay's partner is RuthWilkins?