Retired correctional officer files human rights complaint over racism allegations
The Nova Scotia Justice Department is asking the provincial Supreme Court to kill a human rights complaint filed by a retired senior correctional officer.
Kevin Brooks, an African-Nova Scotian from East Preston, alleges he was passed over for a promotion because of his race.
After more than 25 years as a correctional officer, Brooks retired in January 2013.
“I just couldn’t handle the systemic discrimination that was going on there,” says Brooks.
In 2010, there was a competition for deputy superintendent, and Brooks had nearly 13 years’ experience as a captain under his belt at the time.
But he says he was never interviewed for the job and was passed over for a promotion.
According to court documents, the competition was put on hold and another person with considerably less experience was appointed to acting deputy superintendent.
“Five days after it closed it was appointed to somebody who was junior to me and I found out in a mass email that it was appointed to somebody else,” says Brooks.
He filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and an investigation was conducted.
“The conclusion recommended that the entire matter go before a board of inquiry in its entirety,” says lawyer Kymberley Franklin.
Brooks is alleging systemic discrimination since he joined the correctional service in 1987, but the Justice Department opposes the complaint going to a board of inquiry. Instead, it has filed for a judicial review at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
“They don’t believe there was enough information or, as they’re saying, a lack of evidence involved in the initial investigation,” says Franklin.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department says the province won’t be commenting on the matter while it is before the courts. However, the department states in court documents that there is only enough evidence in the investigation to support one allegation – that Brooks was not promoted because of his race.
“The judicial review is not the proper forum for this matter,” says Franklin. “It should be decided in front of a board of inquiry.”
The Nova Scotia government also claims there is a statute of limitations on some claims, but Franklin dismisses that claim.
“You can’t look at a complaint in isolation if it has happened over a number of years,” she says.
Ironically, Brooks was awarded a Minister’s Award in 2010 for exceptional contribution to correction services for helping develop policy and training dealing with discrimination.
“I’m going to fight right to the end,” he says. “I just want the truth to come out, the whole truth.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant