University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22, poses for photograph in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Hale has filed a complaint with B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal alleging the university failed to take action after she reported a sexual assault, leading her to struggle in class and take indefinite medical leave. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett

University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22, poses for photograph in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Hale has filed a complaint with B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal alleging the university failed to take action after she reported a sexual assault, leading her to struggle in class and take indefinite medical leave. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett

B.C. Supreme Court to decide if human rights complaint against UBC Okanagan stands

Former student who alleges the school mishandled her sexual assault complaint

A judge reserved his decision Monday on whether to quash a human rights tribunal decision after hearing arguments from lawyers for the University of British Columbia and a former student who alleges the school mishandled her sexual assault complaint.

The school’s Okanagan campus wants the court to throw out a 2018 decision by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, which found partly in favour of Stephanie Hale. It denied the university’s application to dismiss her complaint last year.

Hale claimed in her complaint that she experienced discrimination on the basis of sex and disability after she reported the alleged assault to various university employees starting in January 2013 and they failed to direct her to the relevant resources.

The tribunal accepted part of the complaint against the university for a contravention of the Human Rights Code between February 2016 and March 2017 when Hale was going through the school’s non‐academic misconduct process.

The tribunal dismissed the other parts of Hale’s complaint related to events before February 2016, noting it was filed outside a six-month limitation period.

The Canadian Press does not typically identify complainants in cases of sexual assault, but Hale wants her name used.

She says in documents filed with the tribunal that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in January 2013. The student has denied the allegations, saying what happened was consensual.

READ MORE: UBCO fails to have sexual assault case thrown out

Clea Parfitt, Hale’s lawyer, argued Monday that there is a connection between the harm Hale says she experienced during the university’s handling of the alleged assault and her identity as a woman.

Parfitt said case law defines adverse impact discrimination as occurring when a seemingly neutral law, policy or procedure has a disproportionate affect on a protected group.

She also said the tribunal considered evidence that showed the school’s processes were harmful to Hale, while the university itself acknowledged that its procedures could have been better.

Michael Wagner, a lawyer for the school, told the court that UBC Okanagan agrees women are disproportionately victims of sexual assault, but he argued the case hinges on access to institutional systems or process rather than adverse impacts.

Justice David Crossin has reserved his decision until at least Friday, when lawyers for the school are expected to make another submission after reviewing a case relied on by Parfitt.

Hale reported the alleged assault to a residence adviser a week after she says it happened. Tribunal documents say she was directed to a campus medical facility, where she was not physically examined.

She says university employees she talked to in the weeks after the alleged incident failed to provide her with full information about the options open to her, including referring her to the school’s equity and inclusion office or its policies on sexual harassment.

Hale complained to the tribunal that contact with her alleged attacker in class contributed to her declining mental and physical health before she left the program in December 2015.

She was also diagnosed with anxiety after the incident.

The tribunal documents show Hale was referred to UBC’s equity and inclusion office in Vancouver in February 2016 after she reported the alleged assault to the dean of engineering the previous April.

In March 2016 she was told campus security would investigate the alleged assault. Its report was referred to the school’s non-academic misconduct committee.

Hale’s complaint to the tribunal says Hale found that process discriminatory and unduly demanding.

The committee met without Hale in November 2016 after her psychologist recommended she should not participate because she didn’t trust the process. University president Santa Ono dismissed Hale’s complaint against the other student in February 2017, citing a lack of evidence.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC Supreme CourtUBC

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

Just Posted

An electronic sign at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction notifies travellers heading towards Sutton Pass that closure windows are in effect Thursday morning. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Survey swirls up confusion around Tofino-Ucluelet highway closures

“The Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Project closure times remain the same for now,” ministry says

Kevin Cortes, Matt Crist, Cris Martin, Mike Moore and Steve Mancini were delighted by the amount of support they received while collecting donations during a past Stuff the Cruiser event at the Ukee Co-op. (Westerly File photo)
West Coast set to ‘Stuff the Cruiser’ on Saturday

Food Bank on the Edge has three easy and safe ways for folks to donate

Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)
Masso and Wenstob receive 2020 Rainy Coast Arts Award

Tla-o-qui-aht brothers share Pacific Rim Arts Society honour

Pamela Evans gazes lovingly at her four-year-old French bulldog Jack on Thursday, Nov. 5. The energetic young pup has regained his usual rambunctiousness after recently recovering from a significant illness brought on by consuming discarded cannabis new Brown’s Beach in Ucluelet. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Discarded cannabis a “frequent” threat to pets in Tofino-Ucluelet

“I couldn’t grab him fast enough to get it out of his mouth before he swallowed it.”

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
Four Alberni schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

Exposures occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25 depending on the school

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read