Yukon College fights twins in court

Joie Quarton was hired by Yukon College to fight a human rights complaint lodged by two elderly twin sisters.

Joie Quarton was hired by Yukon College to fight a human rights complaint lodged by two elderly twin sisters.

Now, the local lawyer is working for the Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication, overseeing the very case she fought against.

And this is a potential conflict of interest, say the twins.

Twin sisters Sarah Baker and Susan Malcolm were in their late 50s when they returned to school to take Yukon College’s community support worker program.

They’d hoped it would lead to work with people struggling with mental health issues.

Instead, it led to a human rights complaint.

Baker and Malcolm faced harassment and discrimination from the program’s two teachers, according to a Human Rights Board of Adjudication ruling released in May.

The teachers commented on the twins’ health, their weight and even said they smelled, according to the sisters’ testimony.

The twins were awarded $10,000 each, plus court costs.

But Baker and Malcolm may never see this money.

In court documents filed last Friday, Yukon College is appealing the ruling because the human rights chief adjudicator’s term expired before the written decision was released.

The human rights commissions’ new adjudicator, Quarton, is the lawyer hired by Yukon College to fight the twins’ human rights claims several years earlier.

Quarton denies this is a conflict of interest.

She stopped representing the college – and fighting the twins’ human rights complaint – in October 2009, according to a letter from Quarton written last month.

She didn’t take the post with the human rights commission until December 2010.

But when she took over as chief adjudicator, the decision on the Baker and Malcolm case against the college still had not been released.

Quarton is aware of how this looks.

“I did everything I could, given the distance I needed to keep, to ensure that the decision was released as soon as possible,” she wrote.

The decision was made in December, according to adjudication board documents.

But it wasn’t released until May.

Why did Quarton sit on it for six months? asked Baker and Malcolm in a letter sent to law society discipline committee chair Laura Cabott.

The Yukon Human Rights Commission is also questioning why the adjudication board took so long to release the decision, according to court documents.

The whole mess hangs on the timeline.

Barb Evans was human rights chief adjudicator and oversaw the Baker and Malcolm case, which was filed in 2005 and went to hearing in 2009.

In December 2010, Evans’ term expired.

But not before she made her decision on the case, ruling in favour of the twins, according to court documents filed by the adjudication board.

Evans “completed her decision on their case,” wrote Quarton.

“But it was not released until after her term expired.”

This created a loophole for the college.

Because Evan’s term ended before the decision was released, the college is calling foul.

Baker and Malcolm are left wondering why a decision that was completed in December wasn’t released until May.

“The case was completed before Joie (Quarton) entered the scene,” wrote the twins in the letter to the law society.

“It appears Joie took the time to run all the scenarios by the decision document until she found a way to negate the decision.”

Quarton did not return calls by press time.

The case is heading to the Yukon Supreme Court.

The twins and the adjudication board want the current adjudication board decision to stand, while the human rights commission and the college are calling for a new hearing, according to court documents.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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