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B.C. woman claims sexual harassment by HandyDART driver

B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed BC Transit's attempt to end a sexual harassment case from a woman in a wheelchair who alleges a HandyDART driver made sexual comments to her and invited sexual contact
B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal will hear a case from a woman who alleges a HandyDART driver made sexual advances to her on his bus.

A human rights case involving sexual harassment and discrimination allegations against BC Transit, the HandyDART service operator and a driver will proceed, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal says.

The unidentified complainant alleges she was sexually harassed by her bus driver and that after she complained, neither BC Transit nor HandyDART would communicate with her for several months. She claims they later advised her that she would have to ride the bus with an attendant at her own expense.

She alleges the respondents discriminated against her in a service based on her sex and disability contrary to B.C.’s Human Rights Code.

On Jan. 12, tribunal member Grace Chen rejected an application by BC Transit to dismiss the complaint. In her decision, Chen agreed to anonymize her ruling given the woman lives in a small town and none of the allegations against the driver have been proven.

The complainant said she uses the HandyDART service, run by a third-party company through a contract with BC Transit, due to her use of a wheelchair.

She said once her chair is locked in, she cannot move until someone, usually the driver, releases her, according to Chen’s decision.

The woman alleges the driver picked her up in a bus in October 2019, made inappropriate sexual statements and invited her to have sexual contact. She complained to BC Transit.

Chen’s decision said HandyDART investigated the allegations.

The decision said in a November 2019 draft letter to the complainant sent to BC Transit, HandyDART’s general manager said police had investigated and no charges would be laid against the driver.

Chen noted the draft letter said similar accusations had been made against others and that the complainant would be required to ride the bus with an attendant for the protection of both employees and the complainant.

The letter was not sent to the complainant, Chen said.

The complainant said she heard about the attendant requirement from a staff member at her residence but was later told by HandyDART and BC Transit representatives.

BC Transit said she was later told she could ride without an attendant, Chen said.

BC Transit has argued it is not the service provider and does not involve itself in HandyDART’s unionized staff relations.

BC Transit had applied to be removed from the case.

Chen, however, said BC Transit had not convinced her that the woman could not prove a connection between it and the provision of the service based on its contract with HandyDART.

Chen said evidence supports the complainant’s submission that BC Transit plays a role in delivering transit services, particularly in relation to customer service complaints.

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