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Montréal, August 2, 2018 - Despite the victims’ complaint that the staff person’s handling of their case was biased and failed to follow proper procedures, commissioners at the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission decided to close a case by adopting the recommendation of this staff person pending the outcome of the complaint against her.

The case involves an Asian female student who was subjected to regular physical and psychological harassment and bullying with racial overtones over a period of two years, during which the school did little to prevent intimidation and ensure a harassment-free learning environment. In the end, unable to withstand regular acts of harassment, the girl reacted with angry verbal statements that led to her immediate expulsion without the parents being informed beforehand. The intimidation traumatized the girl for over a year.

Yesterday, the family received the Commission’s decision, which dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence of bias. The decision heavily relies on the school’s version, and made no mention of numerous acts of race-based bias and harassment mentioned in the original complaint, such as the girl being called “Tranzilla” (a mockery on her Asian family name), physically bullied and teased for using Dollar Store pencils, or of the Education Ministry’s letter to the father stating that the school did not follow proper sanction procedures.

Subsequent to an antagonistic and traumatizing first meeting in June 2017 with the evaluation advisor about the complaint, during which the father, Mr. Eric Tran, and his daughter were interrogated in an adversarial manner, without being told that she had already obtained the school’s version (which is contrary to standard evaluation procedures), the father filed a complaint of bias against the advisor.

While this complaint an apprehension of reasonable bias was pending against the advisor, instead of being removed from this case, as a precautionary measure against a potentially biased investigation, she was allowed by her superiors to continue to act in the file, which she eventually recommended to close in February 2018.

In early May 2018, the panel of three Commissioners reached a decision on the file. The Commissioners’ decision was based on this recommendation without consideration to possibilities of retaliation. The father’s complaint of bias against the advisor was resolved by the Commission and the result was communicated to the father only at the end of June 2018.

These facts raise serious questions about the Commission’s handling of complaints of racism and about Commissioners and managers’ respect for fairness and ethical governance.

Mr. Tran is examining different options, including legal action against top decision-makers at the Commission, as he believes that the agency has failed, at different levels, to treat his daughter’s case with impartiality, fairness and diligence.