Home Featured Adastra Labs granted deferral in human rights complaint from former worker who is also suing it for wrongful dismissal

Adastra Labs granted deferral in human rights complaint from former worker who is also suing it for wrongful dismissal

by HR Law Canada

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has decided to defer a complaint brought by a former Adastra Labs worker.

The complaint, filed in December 2021, alleges that Adastra Labs discriminated against the worker (RA) based on physical and mental disability, contrary to Section 13 of the Human Rights Code. RA claims his termination was unjustly framed as a COVID-related dismissal following a workplace injury.

Adastra Labs, contesting the allegations, requested the Tribunal to delay the hearing pending the resolution of a wrongful dismissal claim RA had filed in the BC Provincial Court’s Small Claims Court. Adastra denies any discrimination and insists that RA’s termination was due to his own misconduct and breach of the company’s COVID Safety Plan.

The Tribunal’s decision to grant the employer’s application for deferral was influenced by the overlapping nature of the Small Claims Action and the human rights complaint. Both cases hinge on the circumstances surrounding RA’s dismissal. However, the Tribunal emphasized that it made no findings of fact on the merits of the complaint.

The Tribunal considered several factors, including the nature and subject matter of the Small Claims Action, the adequacy of remedies available, the status of the Small Claims Action, and the overall fairness and public interest. The Tribunal determined that deferring the complaint would avoid unnecessary duplication of proceedings and expenditure of resources, and it would also prevent the risk of inconsistent findings.

RA, who began working at Adastra in early 2020 and was later promoted to a lead hand position, alleged that after sustaining injuries in a workplace accident in March 2021, his employment was wrongfully terminated. He claimed that the real reason for his dismissal was his workplace injury and reporting to WorkSafeBC, not the alleged COVID-related issues cited by Adastra.

The Tribunal directed the parties to advise it of the outcome of the Small Claims Action, setting a deferral period of nine months or until the conclusion of the Small Claims Action, whichever occurs first.

For more information, see Adam v. Adastra Labs Holdings (2019) Ltd., 2023 BCHRT 228 (CanLII)

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