Brad McRae, the city’s former chief operations officer, was fired in January. (News Bulletin file)

Tribunal case involving former senior manager and City of Nanaimo going to mediation

Date set for end of August for mediation regarding Brad McRae’s human rights complaint

A human rights complaint involving former city senior manager and the City of Nanaimo is headed to mediation.

Brad McRae, the city’s former chief operations officer, filed a human rights complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal earlier this year, claiming the city violated his human rights by firing him without cause following a termination hearing that he could not attend.

McRae was fired while on medical leave in January. McRae is hoping for the tribunal to declare that his rights were violated and that he should be reinstated as chief operations officer with the city.

According to John Van Horne, Nanaimo’s director of human resources, the tribunal has scheduled a mediation date between the city and McRae for Aug. 31 in Vancouver.

Van Horne said he could not answer specific questions regarding McRae’s case. However, Van Horne said the tribunal will often offer mediation as a way to resolve disputes in an effort to avoid a formal hearing, adding that a hearing can be more costly, time-consuming and hostile.

“Mediation is simply, ‘hey, if there is a way for you guys to find a resolution for this, we want to help you do it before it gets into a more adversarial process,’” he said.

Should mediation fail to resolve anything, Van Horne said the next step would be to head to a tribunal hearing to resolve the matter.

Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay could only confirm that a hearing is scheduled but declined to answer any further questions, calling it a “human resources” matter.

As the chief operations officer for the city, McRae’s position was considered an officer position and therefore he was entitled to a hearing in front of city councillors regarding any changes to his employment status, according to the community charter.

However, because McRae was technically not an employee of council, any recommendation calling for his termination would have come from the city manager, who, under the community charter, is considered to be council’s only employee.

Coun. Jerry Hong said McRae didn’t need to be physically present during his termination hearing and could have brought in legal counsel to represent him instead.

“For him to be heard, doesn’t mean he needed to be there. That is what lawyers are for,” Hong said. “So, he could have had representation from anybody else. He chose not to do that.”

Councillors were given “sound” information from Tracy Samra, the city’s former chief administrative officer, said Hong, which ultimately led to their decision to vote in favour of termination.

“All of council looked at the facts and we were presented with the facts and the facts showed that it was justified,” Hong said, later adding that he cannot disclose what that information was.

Hong said he wasn’t entirely sure why McRae elected to go before the tribunal.

“I don’t think we discriminated against his age, his race, his sex, his religion, so I am still not exactly sure why we are where we are,” Hong said.

McRae declined to comment, referring questions to his lawyer, Fred Wynne, who did not respond to a request to comment.

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