The appeal by Berezoutskaia from the dismissal of her application for judicial review of a dismissal of her complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal was dismissed where the Court of Appeal found that the Tribunal member did not act unreasonably, in bad faith, or with improper purpose in concluding the complaint had no chance of success at hearing

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Human Rights Tribunal – Human rights complaints – Discrimination – Lack of Evidence – Employment law – Termination of employment

Berezoutskaia v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal), [2006] B.C.J. No. 436, British Columbia Court of Appeal, March 2, 2006, Hall, Levine and Smith JJ.A.

Berezoutskaia was a refugee from Belarus. She was hired by Sodexho to supervise cleaning workers in a care facility. Six weeks later, Sodexho transferred Berezoutskaia to a hospital and demoted her from supervisor to lead hand. Berezoutskaia complained to the Tribunal that she was demoted because of her Russian accent and poor communication skills. Subsequently, Berezoutskaia was suspended from work after refusing to carry out her supervisor’s instructions. Following a meeting involving Berezoutskaia, Sodexho’s general manager, Berezoutskaia’s supervisor, and a union representative, Berezoutskaia’s employment was terminated.

Sodexho responded to Berezoutskaia’s complaints to the Human Rights Tribunal explaining that her demotion was necessary because she lacked sufficient supervisory skills. The demotion was triggered by an incident where Berezoutskaia caused an injury to an employee while she demonstrated the use of equipment. The Tribunal member assigned to hear the complaint concluded there was no chance the complaint could succeed on a hearing, given the fact Berezoutskaia did not dispute her troubled employment history and did not present any evidence to demonstrate Sodexho employees acted in a discriminatory manner towards her. Berezoutskaia then applied for judicial review which was dismissed. Berezoutskaia appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Berezoutskaia’s appeal holding that the judge applied the appropriate standard of review to the Tribunal member’s decision. The member had fully considered the submissions of the party and afforded Berezoutskaia a fair consideration of her complaint. The Tribunal member did not fail to take any statutory requirements into account and did not act in bad faith or for an improper purpose.

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