Is your Meeting Date a Human Rights Violation?
In 2015 I wrote about an interesting human rights complaint that had been started by three owners because of the date selected by their condominium and manager for the AGM. The owners claimed that they were discriminated against because the meeting was held on an important religious holiday for Muslims. They claimed that the condominium would never have held the meeting on another religion's holiday, such as Christmas, and that they had been discriminated against because they were Muslims. The decision has finally been released. The condominium denied that it had discriminated against the owners. They argued that they attempted to avoid the holiday, but the applicants celebrate the holiday 10 days after the crescent moon and not based upon a calendar so the exact date was not known when the meeting was scheduled. The condominium also argued that the owners could have attended the meeting without interfering with their religious beliefs, or they could have sent a proxy. The condominium presented evidence that suggested that the condominium was in need of significant repairs. The board felt that a loan was preferable to a special assessment ($10,000.00 to $12,000.00 per unit) and decided to present a borrowing by-law to the owners. The three owners were against the by-law and tried to collect enough proxies to have it defeated. The by-law was approved by a strong majority of the owners. The adjudicator dismissed the applications against the manager as it was clear that the condominium, not manager, was responsible for the scheduling of the meeting. The manager did not discriminate against the owners. The adjudicator found that the condominium did not select the date because it was a Muslim holiday. The condominium was not trying to exclude the owners from the meeting. The decision to continue with the meeting after the owners raised concerns with them about the date was not discrimination either. The board consulted with other Muslims who told them that the date of the meeting was not a problem for Muslims celebrating the holiday. Also, it was not feasible to change the date of the meeting because of the deadline given by the lender to pass a by-law to approve the loan. The owners also claimed that there was adverse effect discrimination because they could not fulfill their religious obligations as a result of the date selected for the meeting. The adjudicator found that there was no evidence that the meeting interfered with their religion; they could have fulfilled their obligations earlier in the day, or the following day. Furthermore, the condominium accommodated them by allowing them to vote by proxy. The owners were unsuccessful and the claim was dismissed. While the condominium was found not to have discriminated against the owners in this particular case, it is possible that a condominium could discriminate against an owner by scheduling a meeting on a religious holiday. So next time you have to schedule an owners' meeting, or board meeting, try to avoid all holidays. Most calendars list the holidays for all major religions, but you can find lists online too. Statutory holidays, major sporting events (i.e. Super Bowl), and political events (i.e. election night) should also be avoided.