Welder who said she was disciplined for taking mental health day has case dismissed by B.C. tribunal

A tig welder works in a production facility to repair a piece of equipment. Photo: RichLegg/Getty Images Signature/Canva

A complaint of workplace discrimination based on mental disability and sex has been dismissed by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

The case involved AS, a former production welder for Reidco Metal Industries, who alleged that the company disciplined her for taking a mental health day off from work.

Reidco filed an application to have the complaint dismissed on grounds that it had “no reasonable prospect of success.” The company argued that AS had neither been disciplined nor experienced any adverse impact during her employment.

The tribunal issued its decision after AS failed to respond to the application to dismiss, despite having been given ample notice and opportunity to do so.

AS began her employment with Reidco on Oct. 8, 2017. In her role, she was required to be punctual and was periodically evaluated by her supervisors. On March 25, 2019, following a discussion with her supervisor about time management, AS texted to say she would not be at work the next day due to being upset about the conversation. She did not go to work on March 26.

Two days later, on March 28, 2019, she resigned from Reidco, citing “ongoing discrimination against my mental ‘disability'” in a handwritten letter.

The company disputed the allegations, stating that the meeting with AS on March 27, 2019, was a coaching session aimed at performance improvement and was not disciplinary in nature. Reidco also provided a copy of a form titled “Verbal Counselling Verification,” which did not indicate any disciplinary action such as warning, suspension, or termination of employment.

As for the separate allegation of sexual harassment, Reidco argued that it was vague and lacked specificity. The company said that it had reviewed her employment records and found no instances where she had complained about harassment.

The tribunal concluded that based on the “undisputed evidence,” there was no reasonable prospect that AS could prove she was either disciplined or discriminated against as alleged in the complaint.

The tribunal’s ruling clarifies its role as a “gatekeeper,” authorized to dismiss complaints that do not warrant the time and expense of a hearing. In this case, the threshold to advance a complaint to a full hearing was not met, and the complaint was dismissed under section 27(1)(c) of the Human Rights Code.

For more information, see Staple v. Reidco Metal Industries, 2023 BCHRT 141 (CanLII)

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