Human Rights Advisory Services

Human Rights Advisory Services
Human Rights Advisory Services

Unger v BC College of Optics

Mr. Unger was an assistant instructor at the BC College of Optics. He assisted his supervisor in setting up the classroom, explaining equipment and marking exams.  When it was discovered that Mr. Unger was giving extra marks to a particular student, his employment was terminated.

He filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that he was fired based on his disability -  memory loss caused by depression caused by cancer treatments.  Although his supervisor knew that Mr Unger had been treated for cancer, she claimed to be unaware that Mr. Unger had a disability requiring accommodation.  Mr. Unger had been her student before becoming her employee.  He had received top marks in the course and she was astonished that someone who performed so well academically could be suffering from memory loss.  Moreover, she claimed never to have received any medical documentation about Mr. Unger's alleged memory loss/depression.  

At Tribunal, Mr. Unger was unable to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, which would have required him to prove...

  1.  that he had a disability,
  2. that he suffered adverse treatment and that
  3. his disability was a factor in the adverse treatment. 

Unger was unable to prove that he had a disability.  In all, he presented 4 bona fide medical documents to the Tribunal; a letter from a psychiatrist, two chest x-ray reports and one hearing test report). Only the letter from the psychiatrist referred to depression, but it explicitly denied that Mr. Unger suffered memory loss. Even if the Tribunal accepted that this letter proved that Mr. Unger suffered from a mental disorder, it did not prove that this mental disorder was a disability requiring accommodation in the workplace. In other words, Mr. Unger's medical evidence was insufficient. He did not establish prima facie discrimination.