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BC Human Rights Tribunal: Grievance Does Not Excuse Late Filing of Human Rights Complaint
September 13, 2004

The BC Human Rights Tribunal recently refused to accept a complaint filed after the six month time limit in the BC Human Rights Code where the complainant relied on his belief that he could not file a complaint while his union pursued the matter through the grievance procedure.

The union filed a grievance after the employee was laid off on July 4, 2003. On January 19, 2004 – six-and-one-half months after the layoff – the employee filed a human rights complaint alleging the employer had discriminated against him on the basis of a physical disability. He decided to file his complaint when grievance settlement discussions between the union and employer came to a halt.

The employee asked the Tribunal to accept his complaint outside the six-month time limit on the basis that he was unaware he could file the complaint while his union was involved. He told the Tribunal he hoped that filing the human rights complaint would increase his chance of securing a fair settlement from the employer.

Section 22(3) of the Code provides the Tribunal with discretion to accept a late filed complaint if it is in the pubic interest to do so and no substantial prejudice will result to any person because of the delay. The Tribunal refused to accept the complaint on the basis of the reasons provided by the employee for his delay. In the circumstances, the Tribunal found that the public interest was better served by ensuring compliance with the statutory limitation period.

Harris & Company represented the employer in the proceedings.

Barker v. Kemess Mines Ltd., 2004 BCHRT 92, September 1, 2004 (Junker)