The Complainant raised a conflict of interest issue in the hearing of her complaint. A member of the Board of Adjudication (“the Board”) – Ms. E – had an administrative role with a mental health organization the Complainant had worked with.
The Complainant’s lawyers initially stated that this was not an issue of bias. Rather, it was an accommodation requested by the Complainant, who suffered from a “Cluster A Personality Disorder”. The Complainant had a perception that people involved with mental health services may hold stereotypes about persons with mental disabilities. As a result of this perception, the Complainant claimed that she was at risk of developing severe anxiety. Later, the Complainant’s lawyers argued that the Complainant would see any participation of Ms. E as affecting the basic fairness of the hearing.
The Board understood that the Complainant held a perception of bias regarding the participation of Ms. E on the board. In hearings, it is paramount that the Board and all parties maintain the principles of natural justice, which requires at all times that hearings are conducted fairly, openly and without the fear of bias. Therefore, the Board ordered the Chief Adjudicator to name a new member.