Former Vancouver Canucks coach Rachel Doerrie filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal last week, alleging she was discriminated against by the team – and in particular of Assistant General Manager Emilie Castonguay – for her mental and physical disabilities.
Doerrie was fired by the Canucks on September 27. She broke her silence on Sunday, sharing details of her case, which was filed in British Columbia on Nov. 22, in a social media post.
« The last 2 months have [sic] has been very difficult for me,” Doerrie wrote on Twitter. « It destroyed me mentally and emotionally. I feel broken. I’m done hiding.
The Canucks released a pair of statements Sunday night saying they « strongly disagree » with the allegations made by Doerrie.
Doerrie was hired by the Canucks on Jan. 20 as an analyst. She was then promoted to the coaching staff in the role of analyst and assistant video coach on August 1, the first female hired on the team’s coaching staff.
Doerrie’s filing indicates that she specifically disclosed her mental and physical disability to Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford during the interview process. He indicates that she was assured of a safe and healthy working environment at the start of her employment.
However, according to the filing, Doerrie alleged that Castonguay – who was hired four days after Doerrie as the club’s first-ever female assistant general manager – openly questioned whether Doerrie was « mentally » capable of performing the job. Doerrie alleged that Castonguay once said, « I don’t know if you have what it takes to do this job mentally, » after Doerrie previously revealed his mental health issues to Castonguay.
When she spoke to Doerrie about sharing a social media post highlighting her promotion to the coaching staff, Doerrie alleged that Castonguay told her, « You’re not important enough to we care about her. »
Castonguay was personally named respondent to the complaint; he says, « because of the pivotal role she played in Ms. Doerrie’s employment » and is « responsible for the discriminatory treatment of Ms. Doerrie ».
Through the Canucks, Castonguay released a statement refuting Doerrie’s claims, saying they are « absolutely untrue » and that they are « false and inaccurate. »
« I take great pride in my work with the Vancouver Canucks, for being a good leader, a person of high character, and for always respecting and putting my colleagues first, » Castonguay wrote in a statement. “These allegations of Ms. Doerrie are absolutely not true and her allegations about what I told her are false and inaccurate. At no time was Ms Doerrie treated differently because of her gender, mental disability or physical condition. As this is a legal matter, I will not comment further and will respect process.
The Canucks ultimately fired Doerrie on September 27 without cause, with Doerrie saying the Canucks told him it was for « talking to the media about his promotion. » Doerrie says coach Bruce Boudreau broke the news to a reporter at a team event eight days earlier.
Doerrie’s claim states that she disclosed to the Canucks prior to her employment that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), « with associated panic and anxiety attacks and depression. » She also says she suffers from a heart condition known as vasovagal syncope and a leaky heart valve and wears a heart monitor daily to manage her heart condition.
Following his dismissal, Doerrie says his physical and mental health suffered, « as well as considerable damage to his reputation, particularly with regard to any future prospects of employment with NHL teams or in the league. ‘hockey industry in general’.
Through the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, Doerrie is seeking a declaration that the conduct is discrimination, compensation for injury, lost wages and other expenses.
Canucks Sports and Entertainment, the Canucks’ parent company, said in a statement that it provided Doerrie with « all the resources, support and opportunities necessary to succeed in his role. »
« We strongly disagree with the allegations made by Ms. Doerrie, » the Canucks wrote in their statement. “Our organization has provided Ms. Doerrie with all the resources, support and opportunities necessary to be successful in her role. We acted in good faith and met our contractual obligations both during and after Ms. Doerrie’s employment with the organization. As this is a legal question, we will respond accordingly in due course.
Full disclosure: Doerrie was briefly under contract with Daily face-to-face for occasional appearances on the Daily Faceoff Show before joining the Canucks. The entire complaint filed by Doerrie against the Canucks can be read below.