City of Kamloops denied judicial review in human rights decision | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City of Kamloops denied judicial review in human rights decision

April 23, 2021 - 6:30 AM

The City of Kamloops has once again failed in its attempts to have an employee's human rights complaint tossed out without a hearing.

After failing to persuade the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to dismiss the complaint in May, 2019, the City appealed that decision to a B.C. Supreme Court judge but was again denied yesterday, April 21.

The application stems from a decision in favour of Peter Spina, a current City employee who claimed he was bullied and harassed by a coworker from 2011 up to 2017.

Spina and the coworker were both solid waste truck drivers for the City between 2007 and 2018.

Spina said he faced discriminatory bullying by that coworker based on his ancestry, sexual orientation and relation to a former City councillor.

After relaying several complaints to the City about the coworker, and requiring unpaid leave to avoid working with that person, remedial steps were taken by the City, but repayment was not provided for Spina's leave.

In an application to dismiss the complaints, the City argued that because Spina had not taken his complaints to the tribunal within a year, it was unreasonable to accept his claims.

However, the tribunal accepted those complaints because they are in the "public interest."

The City went on to argue that if public interest is sufficient to bring a significantly late-filed complaint, it would render the time limit "meaningless."

"I do not agree," Justice Elaine Adair said. "The tribunal was careful to point out that whether it is in the public interest to accept a late-filed complaint depends on the particular circumstances of the specific case."

The City also claimed that it was unreasonable to rule in Spina's favour given that it had provided workplace harassment training and imposed discipline on the coworker involved in the complaint. The City also prohibited Spina and the coworker from working at the same site.

While the City was aware of alleged complaints from Spina, the City declared it "patently unreasonable" that the tribunal would refuse to dismiss the prior decision.

The City claimed that the human rights tribunal had acted unfairly towards the City because the incidents alleged by the employee took place outside the allowed time period.

The judge dismissed the City's application for review and Spina, who represented himself, will have costs repaid to him.

The decision can be read here.

— This story was corrected at 10:59 a.m. Friday, April 23, 2021 to say Peter Spina was a current employee with the City, not a former employee as previously stated.

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