Deaf Metis Woman Wins Human Rights Case Against UBC, St. Pauls Hospital

Tribunal awards lost wages and $35,000 for loss of dignity and self-respect by Brian Morton of the Vancouver Sun and published on July 8, 2015.

A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has awarded a deaf Métis woman lost wages and $35,000 for injury to her dignity and self-respect for not being provided with sign language interpreters during her University of B.C. medical residency.

The discrimination entirely undermined her optimism, brilliance and efforts, said tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski in a written decision released June 30.

I find that the discrimination had a profound impact on (Dr. Jessica Dunkley), a person with so much to contribute on the brink of her professional career. She was plagued by the uncertainty and fear that her dream of working as a doctor was coming to an end, and the dream of her Dad seeing his daughter succeed was gone. Indeed, she lost her residency.

She felt dehumanized and devalued.

Dunkley, who has been deaf since birth and graduated from the University of Ottawa medical school in May 2010, had filed a complaint against the University of B.C. and St. Pauls Hospital in July 2010 that she not only wasnt provided with interpreters for her required residency but that the university didnt make a good-faith effort to accommodate her disability.

In October 2010, Dunkley was placed on paid leave and in January 2011, she was placed on unpaid leave.

On Feb. 2, 2011, UBCs faculty of medicine wrote that based on the projected costs of the interpreter services that Dr. Dunkley will require throughout her training we have concluded that the Office of Postgraduate Education is unable to provide the requested accommodation. We confirm that
the Health Authority has also concluded that it does not have funds to support this request.

In the absence of funding for these services Dr. Dunkley is unable to proceed in the program.

After that, Dunkley filed an amendment to her complaint, alleging that UBC denied her a service customarily available to the public that is, residency training because of her disability.

In its decision released June 30, the tribunal concluded that Dunkley was indeed the victim of discrimination, noting that she is one of the first deaf doctors in Canada, the first Métis deaf doctor, and a winner of the Extraordinary Woman award at the University of Ottawa.

She had been matched with her residency of choice, a five-year residency in dermatology at UBC.

She was a role model for the National Aboriginal Health Organization.

Besides ordering the respondents to pay Dunkleys wage loss from Jan. 20, 2011 to Sept. 6, 2011, $35,000 for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect, and $500 to attend the Dermatology Conference in New Orleans, the tribunal ordered that Dunkley be reinstated in UBCs dermatology
residency program. However, Dunkley began the Public Health and Preventive Medicine residency program at the University of Alberta in January 2014.

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