B.C. tribunal tosses human rights complaint over garlic, onion and latex balloon allergies

Lengthy dispute ends with rejection for Burnaby employee

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has again rejected a woman’s complaint that her employer discriminated against her by not accommodating her allergies to garlic, onions and latex balloons.

Tracy Klewchuk has worked for the City of Burnaby for more than 25 years, according to tribunal documents published this month online. This includes working at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre and the Kensington Complex.

But in 2007 or 2008 Klewchuk said she told her employer that she was allergic to latex balloons and asked they stop using them at the rec centre.

Klewchuk claimed that between 2008 and 2018 she was repeatedly exposed to latex, garlic and onions, despite her allergies. Instead of replacing the balloons, management “simply schedule her for shifts where there would be no balloons on site,” resulting in her losing work hours.

She also claimed that she was given a poor performance review “in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination.”

Both rec centres stopped using latex balloons in 2016, according to tribunal documents from 2018.

The city has denied the allegations and in late 2018 applied for the tribunal to order Klewchuk to disclose more information to back her claims, including when she told her supervisors about her allergies as well as when and where she was exposed to latex, garlic or onions while at work.

Seventeen different applications were filed between the Klewchuk and the city as tribunal member Devyn Cousineau worked to gather necessary information to make a ruling on the dispute.

But in April last year, Cousineau dismissed the case, ruling that Klewchuk had “failed to particularize a number of her allegations.”

ALSO READ: $12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Klewchuk asked the tribunal to reconsider Cousineau’s decision earlier this month, arguing that she didn’t have all the documents she needed from the city in order to argue her case fairly.

In her final decision, Cousineau said that tribunal decisions are typically considered final, and it would be “manifestly unfair” to allow Klewchuk to re-argue the same issues.

“In my view, Ms. Klewchuk has not identified how any interests of justice or fairness could justify reopening the decision in hopes of achieving a different result,” Cousineau wrote. “In contrast, I am satisfied that doing so would significantly compromise the fairness and efficiency of this process.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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