The BC Human Rights Tribunal has made a decision to hear the case of Lorna June McCue, who argues that UBC’s mandate for scholars to publish in academic journals runs counter to indigenous oral traditions.
According to records released by the tribunal, McCue, an indigenous legal scholar who was once the director of First Nations legal studies at UBC, alleges the university “discriminated against her in her employment on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, family status and sex.”
McCue was appointed as a tenure track assistant professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law in July of 2000 and was dismissed from this position in June of 2012. In these 13 years McCue did not publish any peer-reviewed articles according to the National Post.
Ultimately, the case will go to a hearing where the tribunal can comprehensively assess whether the actions of the university violate the BC Human Rights Code.
“Our position is clear,” wrote Leslie Dickson, spokesperson for the university, in an emailed statement. “We are not making any comments as it would be inappropriate to do so while the case is before the tribunal. This process has been ongoing for some time and UBC has participated fully and with integrity throughout and will continue to do so until its conclusion.”
According to the tribunal records, the two parties — UBC and McCue — “provided very different versions of events.”
For the complainant’s part, she accuses UBC of failing to “interpret the collective agreement broadly enough to recognize her status as an indigenous female law scholar engaging in ‘non-traditional scholarship, teaching and service.’”
Essentially, McCue argues that the dissemination of knowledge orally is equivalent to doing so through peer-reviewed journals. In response, UBC maintained that they interpreted the agreement as broadly as possible, but “the collective agreement simply does not allow for the type of assessment that the complainant believes is necessary.”