Nanaimo seeking judicial review after losing human rights case

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The City of Nanaimo is to apply for a judicial review of a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision that found in favour of a former employee who complained the city had discriminated against him on the basis of race.

Council met in a special session on Wednesday and voted in favour of seeking a review.

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Victor Mema, the former Nanaimo chief financial officer, who is originally from Zimbabwe, won his case against the city after alleging anti-Black racism in a largely white environment.

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He was suspended then fired after a misconduct report prepared by another staff member went to council. The report focused mainly on Mema’s use of a corporate credit card for personal use. Charges on the card were repaid. The tribunal heard that such personal use of credit cards, with users repaying the city, was common.

The tribunal decided that the misconduct report contained a “distinct underlying thread of racial bias,” and was discriminatory and, therefore, council’s decision was discriminatory.

The tribunal awarded Mema $583,413 in compensation for lost wages. The city was also ordered to pay $50,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect and another $10,150 for expenses incurred as a result of a contravention of the B.C. Human Rights Code.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the city did not agree with the tribunal’s characterization of city staff.

“Council has determined that it is in the best interests of the city, the city’s staff and the citizens of the community to seek such review.”

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