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Racism complaint against Ladner cannery dismissed by tribunal
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed allegations of racism made by a former employee of Delta Pacific Seafoods. Victor Tam, who worked for the company for six months, alleged that his supervisors made ongoing racial slurs against Chinese and generally Asian people. When he complained about it, Tam said he was fired.
Tam was hired as a night shift forklift driver in May 2011 by Delta Pacific Seafoods, a cannery with 98 full-time employees located on 60th Avenue just east of the George Massey Tunnel.
He alleged that John Barta, night shift supervisor at the cannery, made disparaging remarks about the Chinese workers, calling them slow, screaming at them to move faster, and threatening to fire them if they didn’t.
In one incident Tam alleged that Barta screamed so loudly that a temporary worker was reduced to tears. Another supervisor, general manager Don Pollard, was alleged to have screamed racial epithets at Tam, calling him a “shit disturber” and threatening to fire him.
Pollard stated in his response to the Human Rights Tribunal that he never made any comments on Tam’s ethnicity, but admits he told him that his behaviour was “disrupting and threatening.”
The respondents said that during Tam’s six-month stint they noticed serious behavioural and interpersonal issues begin to rise, resulting in terminating his employment on Jan. 31, 2012.
The company denied any racial motivation in the firing and said Tam didn’t get along with coworkers, was insubordinate and refused to follow instructions, did not follow workplace rules, was insolent and rude when speaking to others, and threatened physical violence against Barta and other employees.
Delta Pacific sought advice from the Delta Police prior to firing Tam.
The company also stated that roughly 87 per cent of night shift employees are visible minorities, with 84 per cent being of Asian descent. Delta Pacific states it has a zero tolerance policy for workplace harassment and discrimination.
In her reason for dismissal, tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski said the allegations of racist incidents made by Tam provided little or no context. As well, a letter of complaint made by Tam against Barta on Nov. 28, 2011, made no reference to race-based discrimination. Tyshynski said that given the fact the complaint would have no reasonable prospect to succeed in a Human Rights Tribunal hearing, it would be dismissed in its entirety.