In a recent ruling, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has allowed a complaint related to sexual harassment, assault and antisemitism to proceed despite being filed outside the one-year limitation period stipulated under the province’s Human Rights Code.
The complaint, filed on Nov. 16, 2021, comes from a former employee of Amplified AV Solutions, referred to as HC, who was hired on April 18, 2018, and subsequently fired on Jan. 14, 2019.
The case opens the door for the tribunal to scrutinize issues regarding discrimination faced by Jewish individuals in the workplace — a matter it has not extensively addressed in recent times, it said. The decision also underlines the importance of fostering an environment that encourages reporting of sexual harassment and assault within the workplace.
Background and allegations
HC, the sole employee at Amplified AV Solutions during her tenure, has accused her former employer, referred to as SM, of both sexual harassment and antisemitism. HC’s duties included serving as an executive assistant, bookkeeper, and client coordinator, which led her to report directly to SM.
Her allegations range from inappropriate comments, groping, and stalking to demanding keys to her apartment under threat of termination. HC also alleges that SM made derogatory and antisemitic remarks, underpaid her, and scheduled her to work on Saturdays despite knowing that her faith required her to take that day off.
Mental health considerations and other legal proceedings
The tribunal noted HC’s experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder, which were tied to incidents at Amplified AV Solutions. HC’s involvement in other legal proceedings — including a criminal investigation into her former boss — exacerbated her conditions.
It was also highlighted that HC’s unique vulnerability as the only employee, reporting to her alleged harasser, created a situation distinct from most human rights cases involving employment.
While considering potential prejudice to either party, the tribunal found no substantial issues that would prevent the case from proceeding. They cited the well-documented nature of the incidents and the ability to call witnesses as sufficient to address concerns over the elapsed time since the events occurred.
HR Law Canada will continue to follow this case.
For more information, see Cohen v. Amplified AV Solutions and another, 2023 BCHRT 79 (CanLII)