Tribunal to rule on complaint over hiring of UBC women's soccer team coach


The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint filed by a man who took over as head coach of UBC's women's soccer team and then had the job offer rescinded.

Marc Rizzardo filed the complaint against the University of British Columbia, alleging discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. UBC, which denies any discrimination took place, applied to dismiss the complaint.

In a January 31 decision, tribunal member Enid Marion rejected UBC's application.

"There is no dispute that Mr. Rizzardo was offered and accepted an appointment as head coach, that UBC received complaints about his appointment, including reference to the fact that he was male and not female, and that UBC subsequently rescinded the offer or terminated his employment and then hired a female candidate. Against this background, it is my view that an evidentiary hearing is necessary to determine the complaint," Marion wrote in her decision.

Rizzardo told the tribunal that he was offered and accepted the post on December 4, 2012. Two days later, his appointment was publicized in a UBC news release.

For its part, UBC claimed that its human resources department then determined that the hiring process was "flawed".

"Immediately after the announcement, UBC says it began receiving complaints from other persons who had been interested in the position. These complaints included that the position was filled prior to the date on which the posting closed, depriving some candidate of an opportunity to apply; that the internal rider on the posting unreasonably excluded many qualified applicants; and that no one other than Mr. Rizzardo was interviewed or even considered for the position," the decision states.

UBC rescinded the job offer on December 7, 2012. Rizzardo refers to the event as a "termination".

The university says it apologized to Rizzardo and guaranteed him an interview in the new hiring process. There were seven new applications, and Rizzardo, along with a woman and another man, made the short list.

"UBC says that the female candidate excelled during the interview and had extensive relevant experience. It described her as the unanimous choice of the Committee and as the best, most qualified candidate for the position. UBC says it offered the female candidate the position and that she accepted it," the decision states.

UBC concedes that Rizzardo "suffered an adverse impact" due to the hiring process, but maintains that's not linked to his sex.

"Mr. Rizzardo says that his sex was a factor in the decision to terminate him as head coach and not to re-hire him for the position. Mr. Rizzardo says that his complaint discloses more than simply speculation or conjecture," according to the decision.

In her decision, Marion concluded that she was "not persuaded" by UBC's argument that Rizzardo's complaint has no reasonable prospect of success.

Andrea Neil is the current head coach of the UBC women's soccer team. Rizzardo is coaching men's soccer at Langara College.

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Rizzardo v. University of British Columbia (Reasons for Decision – Application to Dismiss)

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