Employee’s human rights case against B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development deferred amid workplace dispute

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in Victoria. Photo: HR Law Canada/Canva

A complaint made by a unionized employee against the Ministry of Children and Family Development, alleging discrimination based on physical and mental disability and religion, has been deferred by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

The employee alleged that she “was bullied and harassed by her co-workers and supervisors and was ultimately pushed out of her job because of her disability, workplace injury, and religious practices.” This was allegedly sustained over a period of six months.

Despite the Ministry’s attempt to address the complaint internally through its collective agreement with the British Columbia General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), the employee has been insistent on the matter proceeding without further delays.

Worker started in 2019

The employee began working as a child protection worker for the Ministry in November 2019. She later made several complaints under the collective agreement, raising issues of inappropriate behavior by colleagues, bullying, harassment, and allegations that her supervisors did not adequately address the ongoing issues she faced in the workplace.

But the Ministry has asked the tribunal to defer the complaint until the resolution of several related disputes under its collective agreement. The ministry’s application was granted by the tribunal, putting the complaint on hold temporarily.

Duplication of proceedings

The tribunal, in its analysis, emphasized the importance of avoiding needless duplication of proceedings and the potential unnecessary expenditure of resources.

“The tribunal has said that what is fair to the parties, and in the public interest, is avoiding whenever possible the unnecessary duplication of proceedings and expenditures of public and private resources,” the ruling noted.

The tribunal granted the Ministry’s application to defer the complaint until the resolution of the panel’s process or for a period of six months, whichever comes first. The employee retains the right to apply to lift the deferral if certain conditions arise regarding the resolution of the workplace disputes, it said.

For more information, see Employee v. B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development, 2023 BCHRT 123 (CanLII)