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B.C. Human Rights Tribunal accepts late retaliation discrimination complaint against credit union

by HR Law Canada

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has accepted a late-filed retaliation discrimination complaint against Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, brought forward by a former employee, citing the “erroneous” legal advice she received.

The complaint, which alleges retaliation linked to a previous age discrimination case, was filed outside the standard one-year window, raising questions about timeliness and public interest.

The worker’s journey with the Credit Union began in 2013 when she was hired as a senior finance consultant. However, her employment was marred by alleged ageist remarks and unequal training opportunities compared to younger colleagues. These incidents culminated in her termination in September 2020, when she was 53.

After her termination, she engaged in discussions with the Credit Union, during which she claims to have faced intimidation and threats for her intentions to pursue a human rights complaint. Subsequently, she encountered a series of troubling events at two subsequent employers, which she attributes to the Credit Union’s alleged retaliation.

Her first complaint, filed in September 2021, accused the Credit Union of age-based discrimination. However, her retaliation complaint, targeting the same institution but filed in April 2023, fell outside the mandated one-year filing period stipulated by Section 22 of the Human Rights Code.

The Tribunal, in its decision, addressed the reasons behind the delay in filing the retaliation complaint. The worker cited poor legal advice and resistance from her initial counsel as key factors. She claimed her counsel failed to advise her adequately about the possibility of a retaliation claim, despite her sharing concerns about her subsequent employment being sabotaged.

“In my view, counsel’s failure to advise when information about retaliation surfaced amounts to erroneous legal advice for the purposes of this decision,” the Tribunal said.

The Tribunal found merit in her arguments, noting that her reliance on erroneous legal advice played a significant role in the delay. The Tribunal also considered the potential prejudice to the Credit Union due to the late filing. However, it concluded that the five-month delay, in the absence of a solid factual basis for substantial prejudice, was not enough to reject the complaint on these grounds.

For more information, see Sun v. Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, 2024 BCHRT 9 (CanLII).

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