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University of New Brunswick adjourns appeal in women's hockey case

September 30, 2016 - 11:16 AM

FREDERICTON - The University of New Brunswick is pausing the court battle against a ruling that ordered it to reinstate its women's varsity hockey team.

The ruling, by the Labour and Employment Board, found that the university discriminated on the basis of sex when it downgraded the team to a sports club in 2008.

Sylvia Dooley played on the varsity team and alleged that the decision to relegate the women's team constituted discrimination on the basis of their sex.

Dooley says the two sides have agreed to meet for a settlement conference to talk about how the board's decision may be implemented.

Tentative dates have been set in November and December.

Dooley said Friday that it was not possible for her to comment further at this time. By late afternoon, the university had not responded to a request for comment.

The university could still take the case to the courts if an agreement cannot be reached.

During the hearing before the board, the university argued that shortening the list of varsity sports was based on how it spent its funds and said it did not have an obligation to provide particular sports, adding that the school doesn't have a rugby team for men.

But in his decision, board chairman Robert Breen agreed with Dooley, whose last name was Bryson at the time.

"The Board is satisfied that: (i) the Complainant was a member of a group with a personal characteristic protected from discrimination under the Code; (ii) the Complainant Bryson has shown that she experienced adverse impacts with respect to UNB Varsity Athletics service available to the eligible UNB student public; and (iii) her protected characteristic of sex was a factor in these adverse impacts," he wrote.

In May, when the university announced it would seek the judicial review, the dean of kinesiology said the university disagrees with various parts of the ruling.

"The reclassification of the women's team being discrimination on the basis of gender is something we feel was a systemic remedy to an individual complaint," said Wayne Albert.

He said the ruling has implications for the long-term financial stability of the university.

Albert said UNB would establish a task force to study the implications of reinstating a women's varsity hockey team in time for the 2017-18 season.

UNB still has a women's hockey team, but it is a sports club that is self-funded, and competes in the Eastern Canadian Women's Hockey League.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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