Longtime UNB lecturer alleges racism after being passed over for job

A longtime lecturer at the University of New Brunswick Saint John who was passed over for a job interview has filed a human rights complaint against the university.

Timothy Christie, who has taught part time at university for 10 years, has filed a human rights complaint

Timothy Christie, who has a PhD in philosophy and has lectured at UNB Saint John for the past decade, believes he was denied an interview for a contract position because of his colour. (CBC)

A longtime lecturer at the University of New Brunswick Saint John who was passed over for a job interview has filed a human rights complaint against the university.

Timothy Christie, who is black, filed a formal complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on race and colour.

That's not something I've done easily or lightly. I've worked with these people for years, so the people I've worked with are the people I'm accusing of racism.- Timothy Christie, UNB Saint John lecturer

Christie said he decided to file the complaint after he wasn't shortlisted for an interview for an eight-month contract position teaching philosophy at the Saint John campus.

Christie has a PhD in philosophy and a master's degree in health sciences and is the regional director responsible for ethics services for Horizon Health.

He is also an adjunct professor at Dalhousie Medical School and is a former Saint John Police commissioner.

Got same job earlier

"I was one of the most qualified, if not the most qualified person who applied for that job," Christie said in an interview.

A longtime lecturer at the University of New Brunswick Saint John who was passed over for a job interview has filed a human rights complaint against the university. 1:08

"And the dean accepted an appointment of someone who wasn't as qualified as me and the vice-president endorsed that."

The New Brunswick native said he won a competition for the same term position in 2016.

University officials could not be interviewed about the allegation he was passed over this time because he's black.

Christie said that had his application reached the interview stage, the assessment committee would have been obliged to give him, as a minority, a hiring preference in keeping with the university's employment equity policy.

That, he suspects, is why he was passed over for an interview.

Names 3 individuals

His complaint names the assessment committee responsible for reviewing job applications for the department of humanities and languages at the Saint John campus.

Also named are UNB vice-president Robert McKinnon, dean of arts Joanna Everitt, and David Creelman, the chair of the job assessment committee.

Robert MacKinnon, vice-president of the UNB Saint John, is one of three university officials named in Christie's human rights complaint. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

"I'm accusing the university of violating my human rights because of racial discrimination," Christie said.

"That's not something I've done easily or lightly.

"I've worked with these people for years, so the people I've worked with are the people I'm accusing of racism."

Seeks review of process

Christie said he filed his complaint because he wants the university to review its hiring process "from beginning to end."

He said the assessment committee works in private, and there is little oversight of the process by the dean or vice-president when it comes to human rights issues.

Timothy Christie has filed a human rights complaint against the University of New Brunswick. He has a PhD in philosophy and a masters in health sciences, and is currently the regional director responsible for ethics services for Horizon Health. 9:42

Without naming him in the interview Christie described the winning candidate as a "fantastic guy."

University sources later confirmed the new professor is Timo Helenius.

A November article in the student newspaper, the Baron, said Helenius got his doctorate in philosophy at Boston College in 2013 and has taught courses at Boston College and Mount Ida College and led a reading seminar at Brown University.

CBC tried to talk to the three individuals named in the complaint.

Can't discuss personnel issue

Inquiries were referred to David Stonehouse, senior manager for media relations with UNB, who said the institution cannot comment on personnel issues.

CBC News also sought comment from UNB's office of human rights and positive environment but did not receive a reply.

In 1988, the university signed a certificate committing itself to employment equity.

The university "made a special commitment to help advance specific groups which, in the past, have been disadvantaged in employment," UNB says on its website. "These groups are: women, aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

The University of New Brunswick has had an employment equity program for 30 years. (Google)

"The University is taking special measures to increase the representation of these groups where there are inequities in its workforce."

CBC was unable to reach Sue Blair of the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers, the union representing full and part-time professors at UNB.

The collective agreement governing contract employees at the university includes a section on employment equity that commits both the union and university to equal opportunity and ensuring there isn't systemic discrimination.

A spokesperson for the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission says the organization does not confirm or speak about individual complaints. He said it can take between 12 and 18 months for a case to move through the entire process.

Christie continues to work full time with Horizon Health and part time as a lecturer at UNB in Saint John.