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

RELATED: Nanaimo’s chief financial officer used city purchase card for 11 personal flights

RELATED: Nanaimo’s chief financial officer no longer with the city

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 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Chase RCMP have been focusing during February on prohibited drivers and stolen vehicles in the North Shuswap. (File photo)
RCMP crack down on prohibited drivers in North Shuswap

Help from community aids with arrests in Anglemont and Scotch Creek

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read