The CBC reports that a 33-year-old man of El Salvadoran heritage who has lived in Canada since he was a boy has filed a human rights complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal alleging employment discrimination and harassment based on race in his former job as a Vancouver firefighter. Ironically, the alleged racial harassment by colleagues characterized him as Mexican and included the regular use of racial slurs and derogatory terms aimed at people of Mexican heritage.
In addition to racially humiliating language and jokes, the man also alleges that racially offensive pictures targeting Mexicans were posted around the workplace.
CBC spoke with some of his former firefighting colleagues, who reportedly confirmed his descriptions of workplace harassment based on race. One of them indicated that those in management were “leading it.” A second said that the complainant was targeted almost daily, but that others did not think they could make the behavior stop in a “culture of fear and intimidation.”
The complainant says the offensive treatment started almost immediately after he began an elite training program. After almost a year, he resigned his position and developed depression and insomnia. In addition, he began drinking when alone. Nowadays, he is having flashbacks.
Normally, complaints under the BC Human Rights Code must be filed with the tribunal within six months of the offending conduct. Because this employee’s complaint was filed later than that, the tribunal must decide whether he meets the requirements for allowing a late complaint. It may be considered if it is in the public interest and if no one will be “substantially prejudiced” by the late filing.
Reportedly, the tribunal has not yet determined whether to hear the matter.