May 27. 2012
By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this blog and comments on moneyville.ca
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal awarded Thomas Malin $27,000 for discrimination based on a disability, because he was denied work as a cleaner due to his HIV positive status.
Malin was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1998 and immediately started taking an antiretroviral “cocktail.” His health was good and in 2005 he began working for Ultra Care Cleaning Systems Ltd. helping clean new condos pre-sale and pre-closing. By all accounts he was an exemplary employee.
In July 2009, Malin had a serious gastrointestinal illness and was hospitalized. Due to the severity of his illness he could not take his antiretroviral medications and his health deteriorated. However, by the end of August 2009, he had recovered and advised his employer he was ready to return to work.
Ultra Care had not been aware that Malin was HIV positive, but during his absence, a co-worker inadvertently informed the company owner Dean Woronuck. Malin was told there was no work for him and between the end of August, 2009 and the end of January, 2010 he was given only one day’s work.
There were dramatic financial repercussions. During the six to eight week waiting period for Employment Insurance he was not able to pay rent, so he moved in with friends, giving up his apartment in Surrey B.C. where he had lived for 10 years. When his EI ran out, he went on social assistance. He became depressed and had other physical symptoms requiring ongoing medication.
Malin took his case to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The Tribunal did not accept Woronuk’s evidence that there was no work available. Woronuk had been in dispute with his Ultra Care partner and set up another company and so claimed there was no work for Malin at Ultra Care. The Tribunal heard evidence that the new company employed former Ultra Care employees.
Malin testified that he didn’t believe there was no work for him and that the way he was treated made him made him feel “angry, judged and discriminated against.”
Related: Executive fired for dishonesty gets $364,661 bonus
In a decision this month the Tribunal found there was unjustified discrimination against Malin because he is HIV positive. He was awarded $6,877.29 for three months of lost wages, $20,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect and $500 for costs.