B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismisses complaint by employee on long-term disability leave
A female employee on long-term disability leave has had her human-rights case against a municipal-waste recycling plant dismissed.
In her decision released on July 17, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Diana Juricevic concluded that Shelly Palmer had filed her complaint—alleging discrimination based on her “mental disability” and gender—outside of the six-month allowable time limit after the alleged contravention of B.C.’s Human Rights Code took place. Palmer had claimed her contract with Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers prevented her from filing earlier.
“Had she not been barred by the collective agreement, she claims that she could have filed a human rights complaint as early as January 2008,” Juricevic wrote in the decision. “I observe that there is nothing in the materials to suggest that the collective agreement bars employees from filing human rights complaints. Ignorance of the law is not, by itself, a sufficient justification for filing a complaint outside the statutory time limit.”
Palmer began working for Wastech Services Ltd. in August 2005, the employer having full knowledge that she had a “mental disability”, the decision noted.
Palmer claimed that, while working for Wastech, she was “sexually harassed by several male co-workers” in the male-dominated workplace. Palmer also stated that one of her male coworkers assigned her to unsafe jobs. She claimed she was passed over for promotions due to her gender.
Eventually Palmer went on short-term disability leave, and later long-term disability leave.