Artistic rendering of Horizon North Crossroads Lodge in Kitimat. Dexterra, the company that manages the facility, has been found guilty of violating the Workers Compensation Act by not properly investigating a bullying complaint. (File graphic)

Artistic rendering of Horizon North Crossroads Lodge in Kitimat. Dexterra, the company that manages the facility, has been found guilty of violating the Workers Compensation Act by not properly investigating a bullying complaint. (File graphic)

Kitimat work lodge management company found guilty of not properly investigating bullying

WorkSafeBC review also finds its own initial response to complaint inadequate

Dexterra Group, which manages some living accommodations for workers at the LNG Canada project in Kitimat, has been found guilty of violating the Worker’s Compensation Act at its Crossroads Lodge.

On top of the violation for Dexterra, a WorkSafeBC review found that its own initial response to the violation was inadequate.

“I was failed by my company, my union and even WorkSafe,” said Corrine Pereira, who was the victim of workplace bullying in 2020.

In early June 2020, Pereira was disciplined by Dexterra based on claims made by coworkers she says were conspiring to get her fired.

“It was petty workplace politics,” she said.

She complained that the statements she found on a work computer were false and asked for an investigation from her union and employer.

Pereira went on medical leave on June 28, 2020, shortly after she had reported the bullying to Dexterra. Her doctor provided a note indicating that she should not return to work until the conflict was resolved.

On June 30, 2020, Pereira filed a complaint of workplace bullying and harassment with the Workers’ Compensation Board, WorkSafeBC.

“It was bullying on steroids,” she said. “Seven coworkers had got together and wrote false statements about me to get me fired.”

Throughout the summer, Pereira had begged her union representative and Dexterra to do a thorough investigation.

“If I wasn’t mentally stable I could have killed myself or killed my coworkers,” she wrote in an email to the union, Dexterra and an arbitrator on Aug. 24, 2020.

In the meantime, the union had settled Pereira’s grievance on terms not to her satisfaction, because there was no determination she had been the subject of false complaints, as she maintained.

Nevertheless, on Sept. 20, 2020, she told Dexterra that she wished to return to work. The company fired her three days later.

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In December 2020, Pereira filed a whistleblower complaint about Dexterra, saying the employer failed to investigate her mobbing complaint adequately.

In the investigation, the HR manager found no evidence of workplace mobbing, bullying, or harassment. Questionably, the manager did not interview the coworkers who were the subject of the mobbing complaint.

“How can you do a thorough bullying investigation and not even interview the bullies?” Pereira asked.

A considerable amount of time later on Jan. 24, 2022, WorkSafeBC issued a report stating Dexterra’s response and investigation into the matter was compliant with WorkSafeBC requirements.

“WorkSafe just disappeared on me,” Pereira said. “I had to hound them for over a year, […] that’s why it’s taking me so long to get this decision.”

On Dec. 15, 2022 in a review of the case, WorkSafeBC found that Dexterra was guilty of violating Section 21(1)(a) of the act, which states: “Every employer must ensure the health and safety of all workers working for that employer, and any other workers present at a workplace at which that employer’s work is being carried out.”

In the recent review of the case, referring to the HR investigation, “the evidence shows that the employer did not investigate the worker’s mobbing complaint pursuant to its process for investigating bullying and harassment,” wrote WorkSafeBC review officer Melina Lorenz.

WorkSafeBC will issue an order against Dexterra in response to their violation of the act, the report concluded. What that order will entail is yet to be determined.

“I want to get out there to the public the seriousness of bullying and harassment and the employer’s duty to investigate,” she said.

“Dexterra did violate the Act. The union was complicit with it. Now, maybe they’ll listen to me.”

READ MORE: Northern Health hit with $355K fine for failing to do adequate safety reports

@ashwadhwani
sam.konnert@blackpress.ca

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