In its Decision No. 425-C-A-2014, the Canadian Transportation
Agency (CTA) directly addressed a person's right to bring a
complaint of discrimination.
In September 2014, Gábor Lukács filed a complaint
with the CTA alleging that Delta Airlines' practices around the
transportation of "large (obese)" persons were
discriminatory. A preliminary issue arose as to Mr.
Lukács' "standing" (or "right") to
bring a complaint on behalf of "large" persons, defined
by Delta Airlines policies, as being unable to fit in a single
Mr. Lukács argued that it was not necessary for him to be
a member of the discriminated class. Mr. Lukács argued
that under s. 111 of the Air Transportation Regulations,
the CTA had jurisdiction to hear a complaint made by "any
person" – not necessarily one affected by the issue in
question. In so arguing, Mr. Lukács relied heavily
upon certain previous decisions of the CTA. The CTA rejected
this argument, finding that each of the previous decisions cited
did not directly address the issue of standing. Accordingly,
Mr. Lukács was required to establish either private or
public standing to bring his complaint.
Mr. Lukács asserted that he had a private personal
interest in the matter, as a "large" person, being 6 feet
tall and weighing 175 pounds. His position was that, in the
absence of evidence to the contrary, his qualification as a
"large" person should be determined after production and
interrogatories. The CTA disagreed, explaining that the onus
was on Mr. Lukács to establish his private standing
– an onus he had failed to meet with any evidence on this
Mr. Lukács also argued that he qualified for a public
interest standing on the basis that: there was a serious question
to be tried in his complaint; that he was an "air passenger
rights advocate" with more than two dozen complaints to his
name; and that there was no other reasonable and effective means of
having this matter decided.
The CTA explained that public interest standing was based upon
an assessment of: (1) whether there was a serious question to
be tried; (2) whether the applicant had a genuine interest in the
validity of the legislation or administrative action in issue; and
(3) whether there was a reasonable and effective manner to
otherwise bring the issue to determination. On consideration
of jurisprudence from the Supreme Court of Canada, the CTA
concluded that the second factor was fatal to Mr.
Lukács' complaint. Accordingly,
Mr. Lukács' complaint was dismissed.
This decision provides clarity on the issue of standing before
the CTA, and it signals that the willingness of the CTA to hear
from "air passenger rights advocates" does not extend to
complaints regarding discrimination.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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