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

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Saanich council approves of a five-story multi-family development at 300 Gorge Road West and 2900 Tillicum Road. (Rendering via Alan Lowe Architect Inc.)
Saanich approves five-story, mixed-use development for Tillicum area

Plans include 53 residential units, three commercial units at Tillicum Road, Gorge Road West

Coun. Niall Paltiel of Central Saanich has filed a notice of motion directing staff to work with the WSANEC leadership council to develop a program leading toward the “gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names for key collector and arterial roads”(Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich councillor wants road signs to use WSANEC names

Coun. Niall Paltiel proposes ‘gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names’ for key roads

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read