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Human Rights Class Discussion

The following scenarios should be used to initiate a class discussion around human rights and human rights violations. You may want to do this before actually studying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or you may want to have a copy of the Charter on hand for reference. Either way, this exercise should help facilitate an excellent class discussion.

  1. Fred, who is 18 years old, has applied for a job as a clerk in a grocery store. The store manager is impressed with Fred’s maturity and ability and says that he would like to hire him but must check his references first. The next day, the manager calls Fred to say that he will not be hired. On checking his references with a former employer, the manager found out that Fred was convicted of stunting several times when he first obtained his driver’s permit. Has the store manager violated Fred’s human rights by refusing to hire him?

  2. Tara and several of her friends play in a women’ hockey league at the local skating rink. Whenever they play, the male rink attendants always kick the women out before their allotted ice time is complete. The attendants joke and laugh every time one of the young women falls, and there are often degrading pictures of women in the dressing rooms. Tara has complained, but the rink manager has done nothing, saying that women should “stick to figure skating.” Have the rink attendants violated the young women’s human rights?

  3. After years of fighting, Joe’s parents are separating. Things are so bad at home that Joe feels he must move out on his own if he is to successfully complete his school year. He has been a good student and stayed out of trouble. At 16, he has qualified for social assistance and has tried to rent a room near his school. The property manager refuses to rent Joe a place to live, saying that he does not rent to “social assistance kids”. Has the property manager violated Joe’s human rights?

  4. Mary and several African-Canadian friends have gone to a local coffee house after school. They are laughing and chatting like everybody else in the establishment. Things start to get out of hand between their group and several other students sitting at another table. Cream containers are thrown, and the groups exchange angry remarks. When asked to leave, Mary and her friends feel angry and discriminated against. Did staff violate the group’s human rights?

  5. Last week, Jane and her friend Norton organized a fundraiser at school for AIDS research. Yesterday, they both found cartoons making fun of homosexuals on their desks. Last night, several students shouting homophobic comments verbally attacked them on the street close to the school yard. Their teacher saw the cartoons and has heard rumours of the verbal attack but feels that the school administrators cannot take action because the attack took place off the school premises. Neither student has complained to school administrators. Have the students violated Jane and Norton’s human rights?

  6. A local dentist’s office has an opening for a part-time receptionist. The position requires excellent communication skills since the person hired will answer clients’ telephone calls and receive patients who enter the clinic. Jacques, who was born and raised in Montreal, has applied for the job. The owner does not hire Jacques because she feels customers may not understand him because of his accent. Has the owner violated Jacques’s human rights?

  7. Last Saturday, Stephen and his friends went to a movie theatre they had never been to before. The theatre manager told Stephen, who is confined to a motorized wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy, that he would either have to get his friends to move him into a theatre seat or watch the movie from the only area available for the wheelchair — in front of the first row of seats. When Stephen complained about this request, the theatre manager told him he was entitled to the same service as everyone else — a ticket and a seat to watch the movie. Has the theatre manager violated Stephen’s human rights?

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