Chilliwack firefighter says mandatory retirement violates his rights

A Chilliwack firefighter is fighting what he says is age discrimination in a complaint being heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

A Chilliwack firefighter is fighting what he says is age discrimination in a complaint being heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Russell Shellard 63, of Rosedale was required to retire from the Chilliwack Fire Department at the age of 60, under operational guidelines that have few exceptions, according to documents filed by City of Chilliwack in an application to dismiss the human rights complaint.

Mandatory retirement regulations stem from the physical demands of the job, and the risk of sudden on-the-job cardiac events after age 60, according to the ruling.

The guidelines brought in 2012 are designed to “safeguard the welfare of both the firefighters and the public,” according to the documents.

When he successfully completed in the Fire Department’s recruit training program, Shellard argued he had no idea that he would be required to retire four years later.

He was a paid on-call firefighter with Hall 2 in Rosedale, and he filed the results of two physical exams that confirmed his fitness for duty.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body created by the B.C. Human Rights Code. The tribunal is responsible for accepting, screening, mediating and adjudicating human rights complaints. A tribunal for this case has not been set.

Chilliwack Fire Chief Richard Ryall said he could not comment on the matter.

“The HRT has recently decided to hear the case and therefore neither I or the Mayor’s office will be making any comment until the case is heard the commission makes a ruling, at which time we will have a comment,” wrote Chief Ryall in an emailed statement.

The application to dismiss the human rights complaint was denied.

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