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Former Vancouver Pride ED disputes human rights complaint

Draft statement of defence alleges former employee had work issues

UPDATE: Feb 2, 2016

The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) says it’s not represented by a draft statement of defence written by its former executive director, Ray Lam.

“The Vancouver Pride Society is not in a position to comment on a matter before the BC Human Rights Tribunal,” the VPS says in a statement emailed to Daily Xtra Feb 2, 2016. “However we can say that Mr Ray Lam is no longer an employee of VPS, and does not speak for the organization.”

A copy of the draft statement of defence, obtained by Daily Xtra in January, responds to a human rights complaint against the VPS filed by a former employee.

Feb 1, 2016

A draft statement of defence to a complaint filed by a former Vancouver Pride Society employee alleges the employee had work performance issues, and was not discriminated against.

The draft defence, written by former VPS executive director Ray Lam, purports to represent the Vancouver Pride Society’s position in a complaint scheduled for mediation this March before the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Former VPS volunteer coordinator Melody Johnson says she filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal Oct 10, 2015, after the VPS fired her in July. She alleges her former employer offered her neither support nor accommodation after she was sexually assaulted by two men in an alley near Davie Street in May 2015.

Daily Xtra requested copies of both Johnson’s complaint and the statement of defence from the tribunal, but was told such records are confidential. Only tribunal decisions are released publicly, staff said.

But a draft copy of Lam’s statement of defence alleges Johnson’s performance at work was inconsistent and often insufficient both before and after the alleged incident, that she took unplanned absences from the office and often arrived late or left early to attend to unforeseen emergencies.

The draft defence alleges that Johnson’s complaint is not factually accurate, nor does it demonstrate any discrimination against her.

Lam, who was executive director of the VPS when the incidents occurred but has since resigned, told Daily Xtra the statement of defence should be finalized and filed with the tribunal within the next two weeks.

When reached for comment by Daily Xtra, Johnson disputes the allegations as described to her in Lam’s draft defence. She says she stands by her complaint.

While she has yet to see the draft statement of defence, she calls its allegations “preposterous.”

She acknowledges her mind may not have been on her work at times but attributes that to being sexually assaulted, something she says she told the VPS about.

The Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to mediate the complaint in March 2016. None of the allegations have yet been heard or proven in tribunal.

(Editor’s note: This article was updated and corrected on Feb 2, 2016 to reflect the Vancouver Pride Society’s statement that it’s not represented by the draft statement of defence written by Ray Lam.)

This story is filed under News & Ideas, Pride, Vancouver