October 3, 2018 4:38 pm
Updated: October 3, 2018 11:33 pm

Six employees file human rights complaints against UBC alleging discrimination

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The University of British Columbia (UBC) is facing several human rights complaints for allegedly denying employees promotions, terminating them because of a disability or for being pregnant.

The Association of Administrative and Professional Staff is the organization that represents about 4,500 UBC employees. Executive director Joey Hansen said the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to hear all eight complaints from six workers.

“In one case it involves the university denying a pregnant employee a previously promised promotion. Most of the other cases, the university initially worked with the person to accommodate their disability but ultimately terminating the disabled employee,” Hansen said.


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The complaints involve top administrators including chief information officer Jennifer Burns, the dean of education Blye Frank and UBC Okanagan’s dean of health and social development Gord Binsted.

“The individuals were directly or indirectly involved in the discriminatory actions,” Hansen added.

Hansen said five of the six employees are women.

“We’re a bit different than most organizations, our members don’t enjoy just cause protection like most employees covered by a collective agreement. The first this came about is when employees came to us saying ‘I have a health issue but I’m afraid to disclose it to my supervisor because I think they’ll use it as an excuse to terminate me’,” Hansen said. “Or we have a lot of people asking how long they can hold off before disclosing to their supervisor that they’re pregnant because they are afraid to disclose that because they don’t enjoy just cause protection, so the employer can terminate them whenever it wants to.”

READ MORE: B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC’s handling of sex assault reports

Hansen said the union has been monitoring concerns that developed between May and August this year.

In a statement, UBC says it’s aware of the complaints but it cannot comment on individual cases.

UBC says it works hard to ensure employees have access to innovative programs and benefits including staff housing programs, fitness facilities, daycare, retirement planning assistance and many others that make UBC an exceptional work environment and the university takes discrimination concerns seriously.

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