'Hurt feelings report' denied

The parent company of the Copper Mountain Mine in Princeton is disputing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit from one of its former millwrights, who alleges the company issued “hurt feelings reports” to employees that complained about working conditions.

The employee, who Castanet News is not naming due to mental health struggles, filed a lawsuit in January seeking damages for a “poisoned working environment” that led to his eventual departure from the mine.

He claims anytime an employee approached a supervisor with a complaint of harassment, they would be provided with a “hurt feelings report.”

“In fact, many staff meetings started with a supervisor asking if anyone required a HFR,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit adds that notes were left on the break-room whiteboard suggesting layoffs and wage reductions are imminent.

The company’s response, however, filed March 1 in Vancouver tells a different story.

In it, the Copper Mountain Mining Corporation denies the existence of the hurt feelings reports, noting the report the plaintiff produced was not addressed to the plaintiff, and the person named in it doesn’t recall ever seeing it.

The lawsuit explains the whiteboard notes as brainstorming that was taking place following the crash of copper prices in 2015.

“During this session, employees were offering suggestion to management about ways in which the defendant could reduce operating costs without laying off employees,” the response states.

The plaintiff left work on stress leave on Aug. 1, 2017, blaming harassment and a poisonous work environment.

He attempted to return to work in November, but was prevented in doing so, with the company requiring him to submit the details of his harassment complaint first.

The company found the proof of harassment submitted by the employee to be not sufficient, and requested more documentation. The employee refused and resigned, the company alleges.

“There is significant demand for the plaintiff’s skills as a millwright and he should have been able to find alternate employment very quickly if he had made reasonable efforts to do so,” the company’s response states.

The employee's WorksafeBC claim for mental stress and disability related to a poisonous work environment was denied by the agency last year.   

Neither the employee’s or the company’s claims have been proven in court.

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