Human rights complaint names Esquimalt, fire department

Firefighter claims he was subjected to racism dicrimination and harassment

  • Sep. 16, 2011 7:00 a.m.

A former Esquimalt firefighter has filed a racism dicrimination and harassment complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the Township of Esquimalt and the Esquimalt Fire Department.

The case centres around Ricky Malhotra, who was fired from the job in April. The Indo-Canadian first filed a racism complaint with the township in August 2009.

His allegations are with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, which provides parties with the opportunity to resolve issues through mediation. In the event that doesn’t work, or the parties choose not to rely on mediation, the tribunal will schedule a hearing. Tribunal members are experts in human rights law.

“The matter is the subject of litigation and we really can’t make any comment further than that,” said Laurie Hurst, Esquimalt’s chief administrative officer, speaking on behalf of the township and Esquimalt Fire Department.

“It falls under the categories of personnel and litigation (which are never publicly commented upon),” she said. “I don’t want to say anything that’s going to jeopardize any part of the process.”

Likewise, Malhotra would not comment on his case on the advice of his lawyer.

The details of Malhotra’s initial harassment complaint, filed with the township in 2009, emerged the same year the fire department went through an extensive audit.

It revealed the workplace environment, staff morale and overtime hours were costing the municipality $58,800 a year. The department was restructured, and fire chief Paul Nelson was forced to leave his position.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, an independent, body with powers similar to a court of law. It handles human rights complaints in the province that come under the province’s Human Rights Code.