Human Rights Tribunal dismisses complaint by former district employee

District says employee was fired for breaching confidential information and making unauthorized purchases

The Human Rights Tribunal (HRT) has dismissed a case involving a former District of Mission employee who alleged he was discriminated against and terminated because of a mental disability.

The district, former deputy chief administrative officer Paul Gipps and manager of human resources, Kathryn Bekkering, who were named as respondents in the case, submitted affidavits saying they were not aware of any physical or mental disability, and that Frank Amato was fired because he distributed confidential, unauthorized emails and made unauthorized purchases for personal use.

Along with its response, the district also filed an application to the HRT to dismiss the complaint, to which Amato did not respond.

Amato launched a grievance with the district in June 2012, alleging inappropriate actions and discriminatory comments by his supervisor. Gipps and Bekkering began a confidential investigation process, but before it was completed, Amato sent an email on Aug. 5, 2012 to all district employees about his complaint, along with additional allegations.

The district terminated Amato’s supervisor in September of last year after the investigation was completed.

In his written judgment, tribunal chair Bernd Walter noted that Amato took a medical leave of absence from April 17 to May 3, 2012 and from Aug. 16, 2012 until Oct. 15, without advising the respondents of any physical or mental disability.

According to the sworn affidavits by Gipps and Bekkering, Amato admitted to making unauthorized purchases, and didn’t show up to meet with Gipps on Oct. 2 to address the issue. On Oct. 9, Amato asked for an eight-week extension of his leave, with no medical explanation of his condition.

Amato was served a termination letter on Oct. 12, 2012.

“When the respondents attempted to meet with Mr. Amato to discuss his conduct and return to work, he failed to attend and sought to extend his absence without medical justification,” wrote Walter.

“There is no evidence he ever sought or requested any form of reasonable accommodation in respect of any disability.”

In a decision released Aug. 26, Walter dismissed the complaint, concluding that Amato’s complaint “has no reasonable prospect of success.”