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

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by Interior Health at Rutland Senior Secondary Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed at Rutland Senior Secondary

Interior Health lists possible exposure dates as Nov. 23-25, 27

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of Kelowna social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders nothing short of ‘complete depravity’

(City of West Kelowna)
Large West Kelowna housing development back on the table

Council considering rezoning to accommodate 184 housing units, project hopes for ~933 by completion

Kelowna videographer Noah van der Eerden details why he thinks Kelowna is the best city in his video. (Noah van der Eerden - YouTube)
Videographer shows off Kelowna’s beautiful sights in heartfelt video

Noah van der Eerden moved to Kelowna from Vancouver two years ago

Children wait using physical distancing after getting their pictures taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Update: COVID-19 cases confirmed at more Kelowna schools

Interior Health announced a case has been confirmed at Chute Lake Elementary

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Courtesy of the World Health Organization
UBCO researchers interview caregivers for rural adults’ mental health concern

The researchers are looking for participants who live or have relatives in rural communities

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that's ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov | AFP)
WEB POLL: Will you take a vaccine for COVID-19?

Doses are expected to arrive in the new year

Travis Hirlaka, Vernon
PHOTOS: Sunrise paints Okanagan skies

Residents in the Okanagan captured stunning shots of a colourful start to Saturday

Staff and students at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary School were evacuated due to an electrical short that sent one person to hospital Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Vernon high school evacuated, one person injured by electrical short

Incident at Clarence Fulton Secondary forced brief evacuation Friday afternoon

Two Canadian petitions are asking to have elected officials removed from office. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: Petitions show loss of faith in democratic process

Online petitions from third-party sources have taken aim at elected officials in Canada

Chinook salmon spawning in the Fraser River near Tete Jeune Cache. ((Shane Kalyn photo, property of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance)
North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Mel Arnold tables petition to allow more angler access to non-threatened Fraser River chinook salmon

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

Shuswap Cider Company has applied for a licence that would accommodate a cider manufacturing facility, a tasting room and patio/lounge area at Westgate Market in Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Cider manufacturing facilty, tasting room and patio proposed for Salmon Arm

Council asked to raise a virtual glass to a licence for a cidery and amenities in Westgate Mall

Most Read