Board told to review redress for border-agency officer
OTTAWA — The board responsible for hearing grievances by federal government workers must reconsider a decision after the Federal Court of Appeal found it downplayed a sexual assault as a “prank,” and used its “own concept of logic” instead of assessing actual evidence.
The case involves a grievance filed to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board by a Canadian Border Services Agency officer working at the Peace Arch border crossing south of Vancouver.
The officer, identified only as Jane Doe, alleged at a board hearing that the agency didn’t provide a harassment-free workplace when she was assaulted in 2009, and her complaint was partially upheld by the board, although it also ruled compensation was not warranted.
In its unanimous decision, the three-member Federal Appeal Court panel says the board labelled the actions of her coworker as “reprehensible,” a “vulgar prank” and “humiliating in the moment,” yet it also rejected compensation for the woman.
The board found her response to “one unpleasant experience,” was “extreme,” and “grossly exaggerated,” although her employer did not dispute that she endured vulgar and sexually violent comments for more than a year from the same man before being attacked.
In her decision, Justice Eleanor Dawson finds the board ignored the Canadian Human Rights Act requirement for compensation and also interpreted the term “compensation” too narrowly so it must send the case to a different board adjudicator to resolve.
Cars approach the U.S. border at the Peace Arch Crossing.