Former City of Nanaimo chief financial officer Victor Mema has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the city. (News Bulletin file)

Former City of Nanaimo chief financial officer Victor Mema has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the city. (News Bulletin file)

Ex-CFO files racism complaint against B.C. city

Victor Mema alleges discrimination at City of Nanaimo, goes to B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

Another former senior manager with the City of Nanaimo has launched a human rights complaint against the municipality that once employed him.

Victor Mema, who was the city’s chief financial officer until earlier this year, has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal arguing that the city discriminated against his “ancestry, race, place of origin and colour” according to tribunal documents obtained by the News Bulletin.

Mema, who replied to a number of questions via e-mail, confirmed that he has filed a complaint against the city with the tribunal. He said the filing was made last month and stems from “discriminatory acts” against him since he began working at the city in September 2015.

“The complaint is a result of discriminatory acts by the city, councillors and employees that stretch as early as late 2015 culminating on my suspension of March 1, 2018,” Mema said.

John Van Horne, the city’s director of human resources, confirmed that Mema has indeed filed a claim with the tribunal but could not comment on the claim specifically. He said the city has yet to respond to the claim, but is in discussion with Mema’s lawyers.

Mema was suspended in March following an announcement from the city that it was undertaking an independent investigation to deal with an “allegation of significant concern.” The city never explained what those concerns were, but to a city staffer later told the News Bulletin that Mema had made “personal charges” on a city-issued purchase card. It wasn’t disclosed how much money was spent. Documents obtained by the News Bulletin show that Mema repaid $11,418 to the city in 2017 and that his repayment included 21 recurring $500 deductions from his paycheques.

In his e-mail to the News Bulletin, Mema said the city’s reasons for his suspension, which he did not disclose, were not “sustained by any facts.”

“My suspension was part of a grand discrimination plot and ultimate act. Everything else was prejudicial,” Mema said.

In May, it was announced by the city that Mema was no longer with the municipality. The city has never publicly stated whether Mema was fired or quit. Mema did not answer the News Bulletin’s question on whether he was fired or quit.

When asked whether specific councillors or city staffers were racist toward him, Mema said he would rather not say for the time being.

“Unlike the city, I will respect people’s privacy until my submissions are made public. Racial discrimination is pervasive and ingrained across the city,” he said.

The human rights tribunal filing notes that the complaint is unproven. Van Horne said the city has corresponded with the tribunal.

RELATED: City fills staffing need in chief financial officer’s absence

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Prior to working for the city, Mema worked in various high-level finance roles with the District of Sechelt, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, County of Lac La Biche and was a finance manager with the Town of Los Gatos in California. In 2016, Mema filed a human rights complaint against the District of Sechelt, claiming that the district discriminated against him because of his ethnicity and skin colour. Last August, the tribunal ruled against Mema and dismissed his case.

Mema is not the only former city employee to recently launch a human rights tribunal case against the city. Brad McRae, city’s former chief operations officer, filed a complaint earlier this year, claiming the city violated his human rights by firing him without cause following a termination hearing that he could not attend. A mediation date between the city and McRae has been set for Aug. 31 in Vancouver.




nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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