Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

A BC Ferries employee who claims he was fired because of his race, alleging a “make-up of white supremacy” in the company’s workforce, will now get to argue his case.

Imraan Goondiwala worked his last day in Dec. 2017, according to a BC Human Rights Tribunal decision issued Jan. 20.

The behaviour that led to Goondiwala’s firing was a determination by BC Ferries that he “stole” company time to discuss union matters.

Goondiwala attested that while he was investigated for misconduct and fired, his white co-worker received a day-long suspension for similar behaviour.

In the tribunal’s decision, member Devyn Cousineau said if proven, the disparity in the treatment between the employees could qualify as discrimination.

RELATED: Human rights complaint filed over private change rooms for female BC Ferries engineers

BC Ferries has a predominantly white workforce, the former employee argued, particularly “when it comes to opportunities for advancement.”

In earlier complaints, Goondiwala said he applied for three promotions between 2015 and 2017 but was denied the positions due to what he claimed was a “pattern of racism” within the company.

Lawyers for BC Ferries applied to dismiss Goondiwala’s complaints, denying race played a part in its dealings with the former employee.

Cousineau granted a dismissal to all but one of Goondiwala’s allegations: that discrimination played a factor in the company’s decision to terminate his employment. This was ruled after BC Human Rights Tribunal reconsidered the case.

READ MORE: B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

The tribunal member concluded: “There is rarely direct evidence to connect adverse treatment to a person’s race because of the insidious and subconscious ways in which racism operates.”

He went on: “That connection can often only be proven by inference.”

As such, Goondiwala’s complaint will progress to a hearing.

Black Press Media contacted BC Ferries about the matter, to which a spokesperson from the company replied, “Our policy is not to publicly discuss matters before the courts.”



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

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