City of Burnaby failed to supply enough places to pee, says former truck driver

A former City of Burnaby truck driver has launched a human rights complaint against the municipality for not providing enough places along his routes to pee. Shervin Jafarzadeh suffers from interstitial cystitis, an extremely painful medical condition leading to a frequent and urgent need to urinate, according to his complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

He alleges the city did not accommodate his disability or his return to work after a sick leave as per the B.C. Human Rights Code. He further alleges the city wrongfully terminated his employment because of his medical condition.

According to an April 4 ruling, Jafarzadeh said the city told him washroom access would be provided along his routes, but the facilities were either out of service or simply locked on a number of occasions, exacerbating his painful condition. Jafarzadeh said he expressed concern to supervisors at the time, but to no avail. In June 2015, he went on sick leave because of his condition.

His doctor cleared him to work in July 2016, but, when he tried to contact the city, he said he got no response. Then, on Sept.

19, 2016, he was terminated – apparently for leaving work early without permission on certain dates before June 2015. In his complaint, Jafarzadeh alleges the real reason for his dismissal was that Burnaby did not want to deal with his disability anymore.

“The complainant says the purported termination for misconduct was disingenuous because Burnaby found his disability ‘overwhelming’ and terminated his employment for health-related reasons,” reads the decision by tribunal member Vladimir (Walter) Pylypchuk. The city, meanwhile, has indicated it will eventually apply to have the complaint dismissed without a hearing because the washroom allegation was filed outside of the six-month time limit in the code. The tribunal has agreed to hear the case, but Burnaby applied to have the hearing deferred pending the resolution of a grievance filed on Jafarzadeh’s behalf by his union, CUPE Local 23.

The city argued the complaint could be dealt with during the grievance process and deferring the human rights complaint was in the public interest as it will avoid an unnecessary duplication of proceedings and public expense. Pylypchuk agreed and deferred Jafarzadeh’s complaint until June 30 or until it is resolved in the grievance/arbitration process, whichever occurred first. “It is in the public interest not to expend adjudicative resources needlessly,” Pylypchuck stated.

In outlining his decision, Pylypchuk clarified he made “no findings of fact regarding the merits of the Complaint” but had merely set out background information to provide context.

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