03/11/2014 03:07 EDT | Updated 05/11/2014 05:59 EDT

CBSA appeals ruling over shift change request for mother

The Canadian Border Services Agency is appealing a human rights tribunal ruling regarding an employee who complained her employer discriminated against her by refusing her request for fixed shifts so she could provide care for her child.

Fiona Johnstone worked as a border services officer at Pearson International Airport. Like her husband — who also worked for CBSA — Johnstone was expected to work an irregular, around-the-clock rotating shift schedule.

Johnstone argued this work schedule prevented her from finding a care provider for her two children.

Her employer offered to provide Johnstone with a non-rotating shift schedule, but would first require her to move to part-time status, which would mean reduced benefits.

Johnstone, supported by her union, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2004. Johnstone argued that by denying her request, CBSA had discriminated against her based on her family status.

The tribunal ruled in her favour in 2010. That decision was upheld by a federal court ruling last year.

According to the CBSA’s lawyers, family status laws within the human rights charter are there to protect people from discrimination based on their status, not because of the obligations that come with being in a family.