Woman files human rights complaint against City of Burnaby over latex balloon allergy

Burnaby Now


A woman who has worked for the City of Burnaby for 26 years has filed a human rights complaint against the municipality for allegedly failing to accommodate her allergy to latex balloons.

Tracy Klewchuk, who worked as an auxiliary employee at Bill Copeland Sports Centre and Kensingtion Complex, claims she informed her employer of her allergy to latex in 2007 or 2008.

latex balloons
Latex balloons/Shutterstock

Instead of switching to balloons made from a different material, Klewchuk says her supervisors scheduled her to work when there wouldn’t be balloons present, but that resulted in her working fewer hours.

Klewchuk claims her supervisors refused to use mylar (a latex alternative) balloons or remove balloons from the sites, and later allegedly gave her a bad performance review in retaliation for complaining about these issues.

The allegations became public this week when a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member ruled about which parties Klewchuk’s complaint should apply to. Devyn Cousineau dismissed the complaint against three City of Burnaby supervisors – Kathryn Carriss, Arlene Mann and Alicia Myton.

No ruling has been made on the substance of Klewchuk’s complaint, which will now proceed with the City of Burnaby as the sole respondent.

“The city accepts full responsibility for the actions of the individual respondents,” Cousineau wrote. “The city has not applied to have Ms. Klewchuk’s complaint dismissed without a hearing.”

Cousineau notes that the city stopped using latex balloons at Kensington and Copeland in 2016.

The complaint seems to rest on the question of whether the city failed to accommodate Klewchuk’s physical disability (her latex allergy).

“Accommodation can be a complex exercise,” Cousineau wrote. “Because intent is not a requirement of discrimination, even actions undertaken with the best of intentions can ultimately be found to have fallen short.”

A date for the hearing between Klewchuk and the City of Burnaby has not been set.