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

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Paula Foot narrates a collection of stories to appeal to the imaginations of the young and young at heart with a new album​ ‘Moments with Miss Paula: Stories for Fall and Winter’. (Submitted)
New album of stories from Cowichan storyteller offers children a world of magic

The stories will appeal to six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds

The VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders' games have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Isles victorious before league shutdown

The Kerry Park Islanders were able to sneak in one last game… Continue reading

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read