Former SD58 worker cannot show retirement plan discriminates – Kamloops Information
Retirement complaint thrown
The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint from a former senior Nicola-Similkameen school district employee who stepped down from her position but wanted to reap the benefits of formal retirement.
Valerie Kynoch served in the Merritt School District for 25 years before leaving her post at the age of 50 in 2018.
As a unionized worker, she was entitled to retirement benefits, including an accrued sick leave payout of more than $ 16,000 in Kynoch’s case. Under the collective agreement, the earliest “retirement age” for someone in Kynoch’s position is 55 years.
When Kynoch wrote to the school district superintendent to announce her departure, she wrote, “I am withdrawing from the 58th district.” The superintendent treated this as a resignation rather than retirement.
She initially mourned the union’s refusal to pay out the sick leave, which was withdrawn. She then filed a human rights complaint on the grounds that the refusal constituted discrimination based on her age.
However, the tribunal denied the complaint before a hearing could even be held.
“MS. Kynoch argues that it is discriminatory for the district to set a certain retirement age. However, age plays a role in most, if not all, retirement benefit plans,” Tribunal member Devyn Cousineau said, referring to the specific exemption in the BC- Human Rights Code for Retirement Plans.
“The district was under the code to set a retirement age for a bona fide retirement plan,” said Cousineau. “This complaint is dismissed.”
Kynoch has been a real estate agent in Merritt since then.