Kim v Vancouver Native Health Society and another, 2020 BCHRT 153

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint under s. 27 (1)(c) of the Human Rights Code on the basis that it had no reasonable prospect for success. The Complainant unsuccessfully argued discrimination in employment based on race and place of origin by the Vancouver Native Health Society.

Indigenous Law Centre
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Ms. Ji Kim is an immigrant from Korea and a former employee of the Vancouver Native Health Society [“Respondent”]. She alleged that she was not afforded the same funding opportunities as other team members, experienced bullying, false accusations, and different performance standards applied to Aboriginal employees. She also alleged that her termination was due to her not being an Aboriginal person and that this amounts to discrimination in employment based on race and place of origin contrary to section 13 of the Human Rights Code [“Code”]. The Respondent denies the allegations and seek to dismiss the complaint on the basis that it has no reasonable prospect for success as per section 27 of the Code.

The Tribunal must consider the whole of the evidence to determine whether there is no reasonable prospect that the complaint will succeed (Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal v Hill, 2011 BCCA 49). When assessing the evidence, the Tribunal looks for internal and external consistency and considers it in the context of the overall relationship between the parties and the circumstances in which the alleged discrimination occurred (Ritchie v Central Okanagan Search and Rescue Society and others, 2016 BCHRT 110).

Race must be proven as a factor in the adverse impact that Kim experienced. Direct evidence of race-based discrimination is rarely available and as a result, it is necessary to draw inferences from the evidence to prove such (Mezghrani v Canada Youth Orange Network (No. 2), 2006 BCHRT 60). In regard to the allegation of discrimination pertaining to the funding opportunities, neither the complaint nor the response to the application explains how her race was a factor in the decision not to approve the funding requests for her Indigenous clients requiring support. There were other workers seeking funding for their clients that were not Aboriginal, but Kim did not explain nor provide any evidence from which a reasonable inference could be drawn as to what would single her out.

Kim does not deny that many issues arose during the course of her employment nor that she had several conflicts with her co-workers. There has been no reference to Indigenous identity in the communications made to her and the allegations regarding “inappropriate racial comments” are found to have been too vague. They allege that she was a poor performer, had poor interpersonal skills and despite months of coaching and guidance, she did not demonstrate signs of improvement. The Respondent assured that the decision would have been the same regardless of whether she was Aboriginal or not.

The Tribunal decided that the complaint had no reasonable prospect of success at a hearing. The application was granted, and the complaint dismissed in its entirety under section 27 (1)(c) of the Code.

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