Chris Hughes has won a Human Rights Tribunal case after being denied a job when he admitted to suffering from depression. (Facebook)

B.C. man wins job he was denied after saying he had depression

Transport Canada has been order to give Chris Hughes a high-level job and nearly $500,000

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a Victoria man be given a full-time job, and compensation that could reach $500,000, from Transport Canada.

The tribunal ruled Chris Hughes faced discrimination after he was denied a position in 2006, after telling interviewers he had experienced depression.

He learned of the decision in early June.

Hughes said he had done well in preliminary tests and interviews for a marine intelligence officer position with Transport Canada, getting 91 per cent on a knowledge test and acing an hour-long interview with a panel board.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve done,” Hughes said. “But I felt good about it.”

Hughes said the next step was to look at references, which he deliberately left blank because of past problems with his employer. He previously worked for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, now known as the Canada Revenue Agency, and the Canada Border Services Agency.

“I explained to TC that I was a whistle-blower,” Hughes said.

ALSO READ: BCTF files human rights complaint against B.C. school trustee over LGBTQ comments

Hughes had filed two internal complaints, one while working on the revenue side of the agency, and one while working for the border services branch.

After filing these complaints in 2000, Hughes said he faced “retaliatory reactions” that made his work life “hostile and toxic” for the next five years before he was forced to resign.

As a consequence of the job loss, Hughes became depressed and was forced to liquefy assets in order to survive.

“I told [Transport Canada] that I had become sick from the reprisals by CRA and CBSA, and had to take time off work and that Health Canada was involved,” Hughes said. “They really didn’t seem put off at all.”

Hughes said he had offered other referrals, and performance reviews from the CRA and CBSA, and that Transport Canada seemed fine with those alternatives.

“Then they called me and told me I had failed,” he said.

Hughes said he then struggled to find work, and would end up couch-surfing and taking up contract jobs to make ends meet.

In June 2006, he filed a public service commission staffing complaint to get copies of the board notes, which revealed that references weren’t necessary to pass if the interview was strong enough.

However, it wasn’t until 2013 when Hughes was able to see the original copies of the interview lead sheets that he realized his interview notes had been altered. The finding led to a case with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, where decisions are split between a liability and a remedy hearing. The liability decision came out in 2014 and was in Hughes’s favour, but was then set aside by a federal judge, and appealed, and then reinstated.

The delay in the process led to a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, which only added to the complexity.

“In 2009, I did a privacy request to see what was going on,” Hughes said. “The privacy co-ordinator said it would take four years to process because there were 30,000 documents.”

This month, the remedy decision was announced: Hughes would be hired as a marine intelligence officer, and be paid for five years of missed payment, which he estimated would be near $500,000, including pensions and benefits.

ALSO READ: B.C. university student’s diaper fetish now a human rights issue

When reached for comment, Transport Canada said via email:

“Transport Canada is reviewing the remedies decision; the department is not in a position to provide more information on personnel matters.”

ALSO READ: B.C. university student’s diaper fetish now a human rights issue

Hughes said he has mixed feelings about the results, saying it took far too long, and that he doesn’t understand why only five of the 12 years were covered. He also has not seen any dates as to when the job or funding will come through.

“Until I’m hired, I’ve asked to have leave with pay now so I can have my health and dental back,” he said. “I’ve also asked that they immediately pay $200,000 so I can repay my debts.”



nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
and Instagram

Just Posted

Surrey wants BNSF to slow Crescent trains

Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Rail-safety forum planned for White Rock this Friday

Event to include municipal, federal, provincial governments

White Rock open house to discuss city’s aquifer protection plan

Examination of potential hazards includes increased population, climate change

‘Connecting Threads’ and more in Surrey Art Gallery’s fall shows

Free admission at opening reception and panel discussion Sunday afternoon

SFU unveils new lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Combination of MRI, MEG allows for ‘best possible windows’ intro brain function

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by B.C. animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for shelter and local municipal election

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read