Human rights complaint against Surrey-based DIVERSEcity to proceed

Not-for-profit agency’s application to have the complaint against it dismissed has been denied

A human rights complaint lodged against a not-for-profit Surrey agency that helps immigrants and refugees settle into the larger community has survived the respondent’s petition to have it dismissed.

British Columbia Human Rights tribunal member Norman Trerise has denied the agency’s application to have the complaint tossed, saying he is “unable to conclude that the complaint has no reasonable prospect of success.”

Trerise noted in his reasons for decision that Mary Tanielian, who has held managerial positions with DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, claims the agency discriminated against her “in the area of her employment on the ground of mental disability by failing to accommodate her in a return to the workplace after a medical leave of absence,” contrary to the Human Rights Code.

Tanielian’s allegations have not been proven before any hearing and DIVERSEcity denies it discriminated against her. Moreover, Trerise advised, “I make no findings of fact on the merits of the complaint.”

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DIVERSEcity submitted that it had undergone restructuring while Tanielian was on a lengthy medical absence from work and that all its director-level positions, including hers, were eliminated. Many employees had been affected and she had not been singled out, the agency said.

Trerise, in his reasons, noted it’s Tanielian’s position that during and after DIVERSEcity’s restructuring period, “several managers either retained their positions or were given reasonably similar positions within the organization.”

The Human Rights Code, Section 13, states that an employee must not be discriminated against “because of their race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person…”

Trerise concluded, “In all of the circumstances, I am satisfied that there are discrepancies in the evidence and unexplained events in the chronicle that has been provided by the parties which can only be resolved by viva voce evidence, including cross-examination.”

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