The Absurd is Commonplace at the Tribunal



October 2, 2011

A police officer who smokes crack while on duty smokes crack while on duty . A public-school teacher who calls in sick, works for a private company, and

collects both paychecks. What do both of these individuals have in common? They have complaints currently before a human rights tribunal in which they are trying to escape the natural consequences of their reprehensible actions, and, win or lose, financially punish their employers for daring to insist upon standards of behavior in the workplace.

While still employed by the Brantford Police Force, constable Jeffrey Servos notified his superiors of his drug habit, and was sent repeatedly for rehabilitation. Concerned about the likelihood of Servos relapsing, the force installed a pinhole camera in his cruiser. He was observed smoking crack cocaine and snorting Oxycontin while on duty in June of 2009. The police also received reports that an officer was buying unusual amounts of painkillers. Furthermore, several drug dealers claimed that they were robbed by a cop.

Servos was slapped with a series of charges under the Police Act and one count of drug possession under the Criminal Code. After pleading guilty to the possession charge, Servos quit the force and the Police Act charges were withdrawn.

Now, Servos is pursuing a complaint against the police force, alleging that they did not appropriately accommodate his addiction, which is incredibly within the definition of “disability” under the Code. Absurd? The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal didn’t think so, and ordered a hearing.

We shift to the west coast, where Karen Lessey is a special education assistant in the Surrey school district. She claims that she suffers from a “specific medical condition” and often called in sick. The school board first became suspicious when they noticed that she was calling in sick every Thursday. It came to the school board’s attention that she was working for a second employer, Millieu Family Services, in the evening hours. They also found out that she would often work for Millieu on the same day that she called in sick at the school board.

Lessey was terminated for “theft of time and serious breach of trust”. She claims that the symptoms of her “specific medical condition” were worse in the morning, but didn’t prevent her from meeting her obligations in the evening. She launched a discrimination complaint with the BC human rights tribunal, which ordered a hearing.

We all acknowledge that justice must apply equally to even the worst among us. Yet here are two individuals being entertained by our justice system who are claiming entitlements specifically on the basis of their objectionable behavior. To top it all off, their employers are financially and logistically penalized for enforcing a clearly reasonable standard of professionalism. Absurdity does indeed appear commonplace in our country’s kangaroo courts.

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