Since it’s been asked through your process to share my story without any identifying details, I will follow suit. However, my soon to be published memoir breaks boundaries and will absolutely contain identifying details. My position is that If I fail to identify the corrupt behavior of those responsible, they continue to get away with reprehensible acts. Here, I will share, in a shortened version, my experiences.
In 2016, I brought a complaint against a municipal police force in Canada for ageism because of its handling of my application to be a police officer. After a disturbing phone call with a recruiting official, 2 years after I had passed my interview, in which she asked me “how old are you’, and then removed me from the process, I made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, which is supposedly free and neutral in terms of dealing with both parties in an impartial matter in comparison to the time-consuming, expensive option of court procedure. I had previously reached out to all sorts of legal programs for representation, but none would get involved.
In 2017, I very regrettably signed an NDA. Within the one mere month thereafter that I was entitled to contest it, I approached the Human Rights Legal Support Centre because they have lawyers on staff who are supposed to assist in with these kinds of requests. Not only did I never speak with a lawyer, each of their gatekeepers deflected my concerns, and then the time limitation passed. My requests for assistance were repeatedly ignored by a plethora of lawyers, months and even years afterwards, even those whose occupation was in the category of ‘human rights’ and employment. This shows you the power the policing institution has enjoyed.
In 2020, I wrote a formal complaint to the Social Justice Tribunal requesting that my agreement be abolished. I stated I wasn’t interested in a reconsideration option because Tribunal stipulated that the original adjudicator would be in the best position to determine if my request was acceptable. However, the adjudicator was one of the focuses of my complaint. I cited every single ground on which I was entitled to have my request accepted, according to their own website: substantive and procedural grounds of unconscionability, exceptional circumstances granted to the respondent, the fact I had requested legal representation during the disclosure and was denied, the fact the adjudicator provided by the HRT was herself biased towards the respondent, the subtle coercion used by her, my lack of any semblance of understanding of the contract presented to me despite her tepid explanations. The respondent clearly had an advantage, possessing ‘superior bargaining power,’ and had their own lawyer present. I had no one. The HRC didn’t adhere to their own Code.
The Social Justice Tribunal responded months later (after saying they never received my complaint) that the matter was ‘resolved,’ and asked if I wanted to proceed to seek the services of a lawyer and apply to divisional court (knowing full well no lawyer would become involved). Signing the NDA, a contract or document I personally consider a bribe, which is illegal, was likely the worst decision of my life. It was accomplished during a time when I had no support system in place as my husband had to leave for work out of province for 7 years while I went to university and raised 6 children single-handedly.
This whole process was horrific. I had already gone a year prior to signing the NDA during which time I had refused to sign. The second time I went, I had no support, no legal representation, and faced an adjudicator who made disparaging comments about my motivation and pressured me to sign.
How much time was I given to decide what to do? The adjudicator pointedly suggested to the respondent that it was ‘in their best interest to resolve the matter that day’. And to me, you’ve been waiting for this day for a while, and postponing it to a hearing will take at least another 9 months. You don’t want that, do you”? She was plainly trying to expedite the process that day to avoid future interaction and further examination of the respondent.
The Human Rights Tribunal is a complete misnomer. Because, like most people, I did not have the luxury of paying for a legal team to represent me, my only recourse was to write of it. I applaud Julie’s efforts to bring public recognition to the absolute detrimental damage done to victims who regrettably sign NDA’s.