St. Joseph’s Hospital. Black Press file photo

Supreme Court orders review for Island hospital pharmacist case

Issue over Human Rights Tribunal focused on how quickly complaints were filed

A B.C. Supreme Court justice is allowing a review of a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision involving an employee who made complaints against two Island Health hospitals, including St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The complainant, Homa Safaei, made two separate complaints, one against Island Health – then the Vancouver Island Health Authority – in November 2016 and a second against the health authority as well as the Hospital Employees Union in September 2017.

The key matter in both cases that led the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to dismiss Safaei’s complaints was the length of time between when the alleged incidents occurred and her filing the complaints – specifically outside the six-month window in which complainants are supposed to launch a complaint.

“The central questions in this case concern the tribunal’s exercise of its discretion to accept a late-filed complaint and the court’s exercise of its discretion to accept a late-filed judicial review application,” Justice Nitya Iyer wrote in her Sept. 23 decision.

Iyer granted the petition for a review of the tribunal’s decision for the first complaint but dismissed the request for the second decision. Specifically, she granted the review in order for the tribunal to consider a new allegation from May 26, 2016, which fell within the six-month window of the first complaint.

There is no reference to the May 26 incident in the first HRT decision, only that the complainant went on stress leave the following day before being dismissed in June.

“The first decision does not refer at all to the May 26 allegation,” Iyer wrote. “The omission is significant.”

In her decision, Justice Iyer noted the complaint of a co-worker belittling Safaei’s credentials from her home country. She is from Iran and is a Muslim. In this case, the co-worker allegedly accused her of coming here and taking other people’s jobs. Over the two complaints, Safaei makes a number of allegations including being made to feel unwelcome on Vancouver Island and that she would lose her job if she filed a human rights complaint.

As far as the other reasons for her delay in filing with the tribunal, Safaei noted a number of reasons for a delay in filing, including a wish to rectify the matter through other avenues, such as a union grievance or WorkSafeBC. She also alluded to mental health issues related to the stress of working in the environment as a factor.

The Supreme Court decision notes Safaei had worked as a pharmacy assistant for the health authority at the two hospitals. She worked in the Comox Valley between November 2015 and the end of January 2016, then worked at Cowichan District Hospital from Feb. 26 to June 6, 2016, and she was let go within the probationary periods at each. In the first HRT decision, she described a history of mistreatment at work. The specific incidents cited in the two HRT decisions occurred during the spring of 2016, when she was working at the Cowichan facility.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley Presbyterian Church on Aspen Road. Google Maps photo
Comox Valley Presbyterian Church, Town of Comox looking at land use options

The congregation is exploring options for use of the property

Comox Valley are investigating a break and enter at a store on Denman Island. File photo
Thief steals Denman Island store’s charity jar

Comox Valley RCMP also looking for witnesses to Dove Creek injury

Former 19 Wing Commander Mike Atkins is the new CEO of the Comox Valley Airport. Photo submitted
Comox Valley Airport Commission announces new CEO

Alex Robertson is serving as acting CEO since Fred Bigelow’s departure for medical leave last year

A group gathers for a guided story walk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley arts-based project takes honest look at overdose crisis

The Comox Valley Art Gallery, and AVI Health and Community Services are… Continue reading

The Comox Valley campus of North Island Hospital. File photo
Comox-Strathcona still on track to pay down new hospital debt

Reserves for capital projects should increase over annual debt in 2023-24

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read