Emergency dispatcher’s human rights complaint ‘not accepted for filing’

Tribunal won’t hear complaint of dispatcher claiming to suffer from PTSD after she missed deadline

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal will not hear the complaint of an emergency call dispatcher claiming to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because she missed her deadline to file.

The emergency communications operator, whose name has not been revealed, lodged a human rights complaint against E-Comm Emergency Communications for B.C. and an unnamed supervisor alleging discrimination in employment based on mental and physical disability.

At issue was whether her complaint was filed outside the six month limitation period under Section 22 of the Human Rights Code. Tribunal member Steven Adamson’s reasons for decision were issued July 25.

“I make no findings of fact regarding the merits of this complaint,” Adamson said in his reasons. He did, however, conclude he is “not persuaded that her mental disability precluded her ability to advance her legal interests and file a timely complaint.”

In his view, he said, the complainant “has not shown that her complaint raises a unique issue that the Tribunal should hear to advance the purposes of the Code” and he determined that “the complaint is not accepted for filing.”

Her job is answering emergency and non-emergency calls for police, fire and ambulance services.

In 2009 she reported taking a “difficult” emergency call, the details of which weren’t provided. In early 2016, she reported being sexually assaulted. “There does not appear to be any work connection to this incident,” Adamson noted.

As a result, she was off work for nearly three months.

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Adamson decided to shield her identity and that of her supervisor. “I am persuaded that public knowledge of the parties’ names, as it relates to being able to identify the ECO’s mental disability, may have a negative effect on her livelihood and could possibly stigmatize her in the suburb where she lives.”

In June 2016 the complainant filed a WorkSafeBC claim for post traumatic stress disorder, which was initially denied.

She applied in March 2017 for a different job with E-Comm, Adamson noted, because she was “suffering from PTSD and accumulative work stress, as well as being sexual assault victim, and was no longer able to handle taking sexual assault and suicide calls as an ECO.” She also sought counselling.

At about this same time, she said, her supervisor repeatedly called her into her office to discuss errors she was making as a ECO “while failing to offer her assistance of move her into another position.”

She said her supervisor reminded her she had no sick leave left and had told her that her employer wasn’t responsible for helping her obtain counselling, Adamson noted. The complainant alleged her supervisor suggested to her that she find a counsellor who would accommodate her work schedule even though it took her a year to secure counselling through Victim Services, he added.

She also alleged her supervisor told her she was a danger to the public. In late June 2017 she went on medical leave, which is continuing. Adamson noted that a couple months later, as stated by the complainant, she “checked herself into hospital for psychiatric problems after ruminating about self-harm.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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