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Vancouver Canucks at center of human rights complaint

Two months after being fired, a former member of the Vancouver Canucks coaching staff filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal against the hockey team for alleged discrimination.

In a 20-page document posted to Twitter on Sunday evening, Rachel Doerrie explains why she believes she was fired due to mental illness and physical disability on September 27.

“The last 2 months have been very hard for me,” the 26-year-old wrote in her post. “It destroyed me mentally and emotionally. I feel broken. I’m done hiding.

Doerrie explains in her complaint that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2018, the same year she learned she had a heart condition known as vasovagal syncope and a leaky heart valve.

She says she informed the Vancouver Canucks of her disability when the team offered her a job as an analyst on the coaching staff. Doerrie accepted the position on the understanding that she would benefit from a safe and healthy work environment, according to her complaint.

“It was important to Ms. Doerrie that this matter be addressed at the outset of any employment relationship, as Ms. Doerrie was considering employment opportunities with multiple NHL teams and she was not interested in starting a new job with a team that did not would not be respectful, considerate or accommodating of his health conditions,” the complaint read.

According to Doerrie, his troubles with the team began when he was offered a promotion to video analyst/assistant coach.

“The working environment with the coaching staff was actually fantastic. They’re really supportive, they’re very open-minded,” Doerrie said in an interview with CTV News.

But she says the promotion seemed to upset Emilie Castonguay, the team’s assistant general manager.

Doerrie alleges that Castonguay told her she was not mentally fit for the job, in response to Doerrie’s reposting of an article about her own promotion, which her friend and journalist Patrick Johnston wrote for the province.

Following the September 19 article, Doerrie claims Castonguay began to ignore him and trigger mental health episodes, concluding that Castonguay fanned the flames that led to his eventual firing eight days later in speaking badly about his behavior on social media with senior staff and human resources management.

Castonguay denied the allegations in a statement to CTV News.

“I take great pride in my work with the Vancouver Canucks, being a good leader, a person of high character, and always respecting and putting my colleagues first,” Castonguay wrote in a statement to CTV News.

“These allegations of Ms. Doerrie are absolutely not true and her allegations about what I told her are false and inaccurate. At no time was Ms Doerrie treated differently because of her gender, mental disability or physical condition.

Castonguay also says she is no longer commenting on the matter, as it is a legal matter.

Labor lawyer Lindsay Waddell, who is not involved in either party to the lawsuit, said if it is true the court could award money for lost wages, and more.

“The things the court can do that are a little different are they can award – and they usually do – what are called damages for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect,” she said. “It’s a lump sum designed to compensate the individual for the impact it has had on them.”

Canucks Sports & Entertainment also released a statement in response to the human rights complaint.

“We strongly disagree with the allegations made by Ms Doerrie. Our organization has provided Ms. Doerrie with all the resources, support and opportunities necessary to be successful in her role. We acted in good faith and met our contractual obligations both during and after Ms. Doerrie’s employment with the organization.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal will now assess the complaint to see if it meets the tribunal’s criteria.

Generally, if a complaint is deemed to meet the criteria, the complainant and respondents can agree to mediate, choose to settle or hold a hearing.

Doerrie said she was not interested in mediation and would like to have a court hearing.

“It’s not about revenge, it’s not about money,” she said. “It’s about trying to change something that’s long overdue and frankly, nothing’s going to change unless people speak up.”

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