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Employee complains of racial discrimination from Richmond waste collector

The employee claimed he was fired after refusing to work with a co-worker who allegedly stereotyped him and called him a “dirty Mexican.”
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City of Richmond's primary contractor for waste collection is being accused of discriminating an employee.

The City of Richmond’s primary contractor for waste collection is being accused of discriminating against an employee for race, religion and criminal conviction.

David Hevia took his former employer, Sierra Waste Services Ltd., to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal after he was allegedly fired for refusing to work with a co-worker who allegedly discriminated against him.

Sierra’s application to get Hevia’s complaint dismissed was denied by the tribunal in a decision issued Nov. 15.

According to Hevia’s complaint, he experienced discrimination by a co-worker during his employment with Sierra from August to September 2020.

His co-worker allegedly called him a “dirty Mexican,” stereotyped him as someone who would beat his wife and children because “all Muslims do the same,” called him a “terrorist” while shoving him and trying to pin him to a wall and told another co-worker Hevia sold drugs and would “always be a criminal.”

The co-worker also allegedly asked Hevia to do unsafe work and when he refused, made comments including, “Oh but it’s okay to bomb people right? And blow stuff up?”

Hevia described himself as Latino/Hispanic and Muslim with a criminal conviction from “years ago,” wrote tribunal member Amber Prince in her decision on Sierra’s application.

Hevia said he asked his boss to address his co-worker’s behaviour, to which his boss responded by “making a discriminatory slur about the co-worker, laughing, and saying he would speak to the co-worker.”

He was expected to work with the same co-worker afterward, and he claimed his employment was terminated because he refused to do so.

Sierra tried to get Hevia’s complaint dismissed but did not address Hevia’s allegations. It only claimed Hevia was employed by their subcontractor instead and the subcontractor is responsible for day-to-day operations of the workplace.

In rejecting Sierra’s application, the tribunal found Hevia had alleged acts or omissions of discrimination that, if proven, could violate the Human Rights Code.

It also found it was unable to determine whether Sierra should be liable for the discrimination against Hevia because the parties gave conflicting information on his employment but did not submit employment contract or paystubs as proof.

The tribunal added that, even if Hevia was hired by a subcontractor, it doesn’t necessarily mean Sierra isn’t liable because “employment” is defined broadly under the Human Rights Code and more information is needed to determine the nature of their relationship.

Hevia and Sierra will have the option to use the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal’s mediation services to resolve the matter before moving on to a hearing.

None of the allegations have been proven.

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