Bullying complaint against City of Kamloops dismissed; $50K settlement reached | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bullying complaint against City of Kamloops dismissed; $50K settlement reached

After the City of Kamloops filed to dismiss a complaint of harassment from a City employee, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favour of the City.

The ruling comes after the City finally offered a settlement with employee Peter Spina to the tune of $50,000.

Spina, a solid waste driver and son of former councillor Margaret Spina, alleged he was the subject of bullying and harassment from a coworker numerous times from 2011 to 2016.

He complained to the City, which investigated the bullying claims, but he took leaves of absence, temporary positions in other departments and tried to avoid the coworker as the issues continued.

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An external investigator for the City confirmed the coworker called Spina derogatory names about his Italian ancestry, sexual orientation and about family connections within the City.

Spina believed the City did not take enough action to separate him from the coworker or remedy the situation, so he launched a claim with the human rights tribunal.

The City attempted to have those complaints thrown out before a hearing in 2019, claiming Spina had waited too long to bring his claim. That application was denied and the City later took its application to the B.C. Supreme Court to make the same attempt.

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Justice Elaine Adair disagreed with the City's argument, siding with the human rights tribunal ruling that it would accept a late-filed submission because it was in the public interest to do so.

Justice Adair issued her ruling on April 21, 2021, and the City subsequently offered Spina a settlement.

The Human Rights Tribunal decision does not provide an exact date for the settlement offer, but it did rule that the offer was "within the reasonable range" of similar settlements.

Spina initially declined the City, opting for a hearing and decision from the Tribunal. His reason, according to the decision by Tribunal chair Emily Ohler, was because he wanted to ensure the City would take steps in ensuring another employee would not face the same ongoing bullying. He argued the offer would not hold City management accountable.

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"I am satisfied that it would not further the purposes of the (human rights) code for this complaint to proceed to a hearing in the face of the offer, which will remain open for acceptance following this decision," Ohler concluded in her decision and dismissed Spina's complaint.

The City's offer to Spina included $7,657.65 in sick pay, $8,085.05 in lost wages and $34,000 for damages, but the decision does not say whether Spina accepted it.

He has worked for the City since 2007 and remains employed there as of the April 20 decision.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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