British Columbia

Fired Vancouver Canucks staffer alleges discrimination in claim against team

A former video analyst with the Vancouver Canucks has filed a complaint with B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal saying her termination amounted to discrimination due to her mental and physical disabilities.

Rachel Doerrie, who lives with disabilities, claims she was told she wasn’t ‘mentally’ fit for job

Rachel Doerrie is pictured in 2017. Doerrie, 25, has filed a human rights complaint against the Vancouver Canucks over her firing in September.

A former video analyst with the Vancouver Canucks has filed a human rights complaint claiming the organization discriminated against her when they fired her this fall.

Rachel Doerrie, 26, claimed the team's assistant manager, Émilie Castonguay, made discriminatory comments about her mental health before the team fired her for an "unreasonable and flimsy" reason in September.

"Ms. Doerrie suffered damage to her dignity, self-esteem, and physical and mental health resulting from Ms. Castonguay's comments, and her subsequent treatment by Ms. Castonguay. She also suffered financial losses arising from her unexpected loss of employment," read the complaint filed on Nov. 22.

Castonguay and the Canucks have denied the allegations.

Doerrie told CBC News that she was motivated to file the claim to help be part of a push to change hockey culture in the country.

"To me, you can't move forward and create a better environment to be welcoming to people who aren't white men if you don't have the courage to speak up and speak out about this kind of behaviour no matter who it comes from," she said.

WATCH| Rachel Doerrie explains her motivation bringing her complaint against the Canucks:

Fired Vancouver Canucks analyst files human rights complaint against team

2 months ago
Duration 0:34
Rachel Doerrie, 26, explains why she has filed a complaint against the Vancouver Canucks with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal after the team fired her in September for what her complaint says was an "unreasonable and flimsy" reason.

Argument over newspaper article

The Canucks hired Doerrie as an analyst in January. The complaint said she had post-traumatic stress disorder linked to a heart condition and suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks  — all of which she openly disclosed to the team during the interview process.

The complaint said Doerrie "never received any complaints with respect to her job performance" and was promoted in August.

In September, Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau spoke highly of her while talking to reporters at a charity golf tournament.

The Province published an article around the coach's comments, which Doerrie reposted on her Instagram account. 

Canucks assistant general manager Émilie Castonguay is pictured in January. (Submitted by Emilie Castonguay)

The complaint said Castonguay called Doerrie into her office the next day, concerned she had spoken to media. Doerrie said she told Castonguay she had only "politely reacted" after the reporter — a friend — texted her about what Boudreau had said.

"Ms. Castonguay responded to Ms. Doerrie's explanation of what occurred by saying: 'you're not important enough to be cared about' and 'no one in the media is your friend,'" it continued.

"Further, and significantly, in terms of her mental and physical well-being, despite Ms. Doerrie's strong work performance and the praise she had received from her colleagues, Ms. Castonguay told Ms. Doerrie: 'I don't know if you have what it takes to do the job, mentally.'"

Doerrie's claim said she was fired days later.

"I was blindsided," she told CBC News about the cascade of events following the first meeting with Castonguay.

Canucks, Castonguay deny claims

The complaint criticized how Castonguay allegedly treated Doerrie, as another woman working in a male-dominated field.

"Ms. Doerrie expected that, as another woman who had worked hard to break into a male-dominated industry, Ms. Castonguay would have been supportive of Ms. Doerrie, and would have been careful to not exacerbate or exploit other barriers she faced, such as her disabilities," it reads.

"It is clear, based on all of the circumstances of this case, that Ms. Doerrie's sex and physical and mental disabilities played a role in the termination of her employment."

Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau is pictured in April. Rachel Doerrie was fired over a disagreement involving a newspaper article published after complimentary comments Boudreau made about her performance with the team. (Craig Lassig/The Associated Press)

In a statement provided by the team, Castonguay said the allegations are not true and statements attributed to her are false and inaccurate.

"I take a lot of pride in my work with the Vancouver Canucks, being a good leader, a person of high moral character, and always respecting and putting my co-workers first," the response read.

"At no time was Ms. Doerrie treated differently due to gender, a mental disability or a physical condition."

The Canucks organization said it "strongly" disagreed with Doerrie's allegations.

"Our organization provided Ms. Doerrie with all the necessary resources, support and opportunities to succeed in her role. We acted in good faith and abided by our contractual obligations, both during and after Ms. Doerrie's employment with the organization."

Doerrie's complaint asked the tribunal to find that the team's conduct amounted to discrimination. It also asked the tribunal to order the organization to compensate her and address the discrimination.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated comments by Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau were made during a news conference. In fact, Boudreau was speaking to the public and reporters at a golf charity tournament.
    Nov 28, 2022 10:51 AM PT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rhianna Schmunk

Staff writer

Rhianna Schmunk is a staff writer for CBC News. She is based in Vancouver with a focus on justice and the courts. You can send story tips to rhianna.schmunk@cbc.ca.

With files from Rhianna Schmunk

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