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Tribunal Awards Costs Based on Complainant’s Improper Conduct
March 4, 2009

The BC Human Rights Tribunal recently ordered a complainant to pay significant costs for her improper conduct during the pre-hearing process.

The complainant filed a complaint against her employer alleging discrimination on the basis of sex and mental disability. The Tribunal attempted to arrange pre-hearing conferences to facilitate disclosure and to set dates for the hearing. Over the course of eleven months, the complainant repeatedly failed to attend these meetings. Despite numerous requests, she also consistently neglected to disclose relevant documents and to respond to correspondence. Immediately prior to the hearing, she withdrew her complaint.

Prior to this case, the highest BC award against a complainant for similar conduct was $2,500. In awarding the employer $3,500, the Tribunal noted that filing a complaint under the Human Rights Code is a serious matter and should be treated as such by all parties. Neither the public nor the respondent should be expected to shoulder the costs associated with defending a complainant’s carelessly treated complaint.

This case may assist employers in recovering a portion of their costs incurred as a result of improper conduct by complainants.

Samuda v. Olympic Industries, 2009 BCHRT 65