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Canadian Law Society Ordered to Pay $100K for Bias Against Lawyer Who Admitted Depression

Posted Jul 20, 2011 6:31 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Law Society of British Columbia has been ordered to pay $100,000 to a Canadian lawyer who says the group discriminated against him for admitting he had been treated for depression.

Peter Mokua Gichuru of British Columbia received the award in a decision (PDF) by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, according to the Vancouver Sun, CTV News, Canadian Lawyer Magazine and CBC News.

Gichuru says he was asked about depression on applications that would allow him to intern—or article—in a government job and in law firms. He says he had to undergo a series of psychiatric tests as the result of his answer and his application to the bar was delayed.

The question read: “Have you ever been treated for schizophrenia, paranoia, or a mood disorder described as a major affective illness, bipolar mood disorder, or manic depressive illness?”

The Law Society has since changed its question to read: “Based on your personal history, your current circumstances or any profession opinion or advice you have received, are you currently experiencing any condition which is reasonably likely to impair your ability to function as an articled student?”

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