Friday, September 12, 2008

Latest BC Human Rights Scandal: Tenant Offended By Landlord's Use Of Parenthesis

More erosion of common sense, using the BC Human Rights Tribunal as an etch-a-sketch to redefine what it means to be an adult:

Woman offended by noisy children takes battle to human rights tribunal

An Abbotsford woman who suffers from a rare hearing disability has filed a
discrimination suit against her property manager before the B.C. Human Rights

Anne Faulkner, 56, alleges Leona Watts, property manager for Lynn Haven Society which runs the 40-unit complex she lives in, treats her in a "degrading" manner that "engenders a feeling of hopelessness."
Faulkner was diagnosed with hyperacusis, a severe intolerance to sound, in 2003.
The complaint stems from an incident in the spring when kids in the house next door to Faulkner but not owned by Lynn Haven Society, were playing outside and blowing a whistle.
Faulkner complained to the family, who then contacted Watts.
On April 3, Watts wrote a letter to Faulkner saying while she is "compassionate" with regards to her disability, her behaviour - which was "angry and unpleasant and came off intimidating to the point of frightening" - was "unacceptable."
Further, it said: "It is possible that this style of residence will lead to more discomfort for you as it is not possible to expect all to keep silent in order for you to be comfortable."
The letter ended: "If you have any questions please contact the office (in a calm manner)."
Faulkner claims the bracketed phrase was pejorative. However, Watts said Faulkner has been loud and confrontational in their five conversations.
"She's never spoken to me in the manner she wants me to speak to her."
Watts has also received complaints from other residents about Faulkner's "unpleasant" behaviour.

She said she hasn't treated Faulkner any differently then she would another resident, but "granted, if somebody comes at you and yells at you, would you get your back up?"
Watts said Faulkner's residency in the complex isn't under threat and maintains what she wrote in the letter was reasonable.
"I would tell that to anybody if their living situation is not comfortable. You can't change things around you, you can only change where you live."
Her lawyer applied to have the complaint dismissed, but the tribunal has denied her application.
Watts said it's a frustrating and costly ordeal.
"It doesnt cost her a dime, but it costs us because we have to have a lawyer," she said.
"It seems to me that anybody with any kind of vendetta can use the human rights tribunal as their outlet and that's wrong," said Watts.
"I'm not saying it shouldn't be in place, but if there's a cost for both sides then maybe they'll think twice before they want to make a . . . point."

I sympathize with the tenant's unfortunate hearing condition, but this account of her behavior reminds me of this:
(watch as of the 1:50 mark...)


xanthippaschamberpot said...

Is it just me, or is our world turning into a cartoon-style parody??? (Your assessment was excellent.....which is actually quite disturbing.)

Eowyn said...

Ha! Hoping I was the inspiration for including the Rockabye Bear cartoon (as it's my very favorite cartoon ever) :)

But seriously: This complaint belongs under the heading of Deal With It.

Two examples.

One: My dad served two tours, in Korea and Viet Nam, as an artillery officer. His hearing was irreparably damaged, resulting in tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears).

Two: A former boss of mine in the Army, who had his eardrums blown out by a hand grenade, had tinnitus. (Actually attacked a neighbor because his dog was barking, which led to his being reassigned as a public relations officer, hence my boss, as I was a journalist.)

Bottom line: Hearing loss -- and the uncomfortable effects thereof -- don't equal Money. Or any other kind of Satisfaction -- from the rest of us.

Does this make sense?

Anonymous said...

Eowyn, your comments about your family, yes, there are many vets who have tinnitus acquire during service. What is interesting, and on point, is the fact the Canadin Veterans Affairs recognizes hyperacusis for the physical disability it is (under tinnitus) because the diagnoses are twins to each other. People with hyperacusis ususally do develop tinnitus at some point, and vice versa. The treatment for both is the same but is not covered so many with hyperacusis do not have access to it. With respect to the article in the Province, it is unfortunate that more wasn't explored prior to publishing. As for Dealing with it? Many people do not understand what hyperacusis is.. There is an article that describes quite well and it is not uncommon fro people, with respect to high frequencies, to act nauseous, loss of balance, emotional respnse - it is audiogenic and can present like a seizure as opposed to a reaction to high frequencies. It's commonly known that sound can affect these things in people with normal hearing as well. I see in the Preliminary Decision posted on the tribunal website that the Complaint was not against the neighbours at all, but rather, in the way the landlord wrote and spoke to her, knowing as the landlord says in the article, that she knew all about hyperacusis from when the tenant moved in. There's alot we do not know about this case.

I have had contact with people who have hyperacusis. People suggest they go live in a cave, etc. Many people with hyperacusis would be happy to do, if it had hot and cold running water. Many people with hyperacusis would love to live in the country, but financially it just not possible. Many hyperacusics have asked to made deaf, but surgeons will not do the procedure because removing a faculty is seen as violation of "do no harm". Hyperacusis is much more common as a secondary diagnosis to things like MS, TMJ's, Lyme disease, rather than as a primary diagnosis. There is an article in an MS Society Newsletter about a lady with MS, also had hyperacusis that asked 3 surgeons to make her deaf. That will probably sound ludricous to people, but, to a hyperacusic, it would be a blessing. Unfotunately it is not a procedure one can safely preform oneself.

Would it bother people who read this forum if next door they had kids (and it's not the kids themselves) blowing whistles for hours every day. Would you not, at some point, ask the parents if they could maybe not have the kids play with whisltes. Does this mean that someone with hyperacusis does not like children?

As for living with hyperacusis,

Here is an article that might clarifity for EOYN, etc., what the hearing disability "is". Sadly, it is not the stuff of simply turning the volume down.

When It Hurts to Hear

which links to other info on the disability.

I am reminded of when kids suffering from Tourette's were reported as having filthy mouths. Kids with dyslexia were labeled as stupid.
Ramps for wheelchairs were seen an arrogant preumption by those whiners who were seeking attention.

If you have children, and you are told that they are disruptive, won't listen, all of that, it is, they say, ADHD/conduct disorder, please suggest to the school that they do a hearing test for loudness comfort levels, as research is currently being done into which is the correct diangosis. It may not be ADHD at all. They both, in children, can present the same. Some school boards currently are ruling out hyperacusis, but not enough.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

I'm sure glad I'm no longer a kid. Unless I was one of the kids bugging that meanold lady;)

Anonymous said...

Blazing Cat Fur,

From what I read on the Tribunal website, the complaint is not against children.

The issue with the neighbours is simply the background in which the grounds for complaint against the landlord took place. It could be another context. There are hyperacusics who can't work in offices because people have the right to listen to radios. Their right to listen to music (and they do have the right) supercedes a disabled person right to work. Abd then, it becomes the disabled persons fault.

Walker across Worlds said...

Dammit, another case in my jurisdiction!

I'll have to post this of course. sigh...

Work work work.

Dag said...

The world doesn't revolve around those with legitimate complaints. Even if the lady complaining is fault-free she is one of billions in this world,and she must find a place in it on her own, in spite of hardship.

Anon.'s well-spoken and informed response here is utterly irrelevant. Life is not fair. Life shouldn't be fair. Life is not about "fair."

My response, considered and thoughtful, is: "Shut up, you silly bitch!"

Life is tough. You live with it or you don't. If you do, most people will likely help out as they are able because most people are decent and want to help. When that is not enough, then perhaps it's time to live in a cave even if there's no running water.

CGW said...


Charles Henry said...

Anon, thanks for your information about the hearing condition mentioned in the article.

You're right, though, that the noisy neighbors, and noise in general, should have nothing to do with this case. This is about an incredibly thin-skinned tenant who is costing her landlord undue stress and financial strain **over a sarcastic comment** the landlord made in a letter.

Do you truly believe it is somehow justified to cause such grief and financial cost to the landlord simply because the landlord wants the tenant to deal with her problem in a more respectful manner?

I see no sensible or even moral justification for the pursuit of this case, and the very existence of the case further deligitimizes whatever shred of respectability the human rights tribunal may portend to prop itself up with.

If the tribunal actually weighed things like personal responsibilities alongside rights in the balance of its scales, wouldn't you agree they would have to rule that nobody has the right never to be "offended"?

The human rights tribunal is a sick joke, and this case is the latest example of its distorted and misguided attempts at imposing a kindergartener's definition of "justice" upon a world adults.

truepeers said...

If there is one "victim" group in society that genuinely deserves some protection/advocacy from government, it is the disabled. I can well imagine why this woman loses her temper, not that one should. But that's no excuse for making the situation worse by going the route of the Big Mama state and kangaroo court, of the victim-worshiping Human Rights Tribunal. It only brings out a fierce sense of injustice in others and does not, in my view, act to lessen and not increase the quantum of resentment in this world. Some of the comments here are suggestive. If we owe anything to those who genuinely need help it is to treat them with the same fundamental principle we bring to criticize the "human rights" industry: we should act to lessen not increase the quantum of resentment in the world. Sure life is not fair and yes people have to learn to live at peace with our fallen world. But that can't be a recipe for passivity or contempt for those who cling to notions of justice. Justice, like the paradox of "true peers", is a necessary horizon, but one we have to realize we can never fully grasp in this world; the attempt to build the kingdom of God in this world invariably makes things worse. We must be intellectually honest with those who have a right to look to government and tell them: the human rights commissions are in many respects a corruption of genuine humanity and justice, don't take that route which only encourages you to make ridiculous victim claims.

truepeers said...

Just to clarify, the basic point of that last comment was that we need to think of justice the way Churchill thought of democracy: we should choose this system because it is the worst except for all the rest: we should not try to build Utopia because that makes things worse; we should seek to choose the least worst system. And to do that we cannot simply live with the notion that life is not fair. We need to recognize the necessity of resentment but also try to reduce it. We need to be interested in what is the best of the bad. Human Rights Commissions aren't it.

Walker across Worlds said...

A bit late, but posted!

Anne said...

I'm on a rant - I'm the person that the original was made about. The article in The Province misrepresented the "facts" of the case because they did it all minute (4:30 the day before it went to publishing) and didn't "read the complaint". For hyperacusis, all I can say, you're lucky you don't have it.. can you use a phone? I can't? Can you handle Music? I have a degree in Music, I can't be in the same room with music. Can you be in any office, public mall, waiting area? I can't - no without risking vertigal hyperacusis. The attitude by people that, after all, we (the disabled) in general would never have amounted to anything anyway? doesn't pass the laugh test. If I use myself (and that's all I can do because of privacy issues for others), I don't believe you will find "anything" in my background - or my families to suggest that I was "born to be disabled and a waste on human resources". I would also point out that up until I was formally dignosed with hyperacusis, I was making $35,000/40,000 a year. Within a year of the diagnosis, I had gone from an R1 to an R9 and my income was reduced to $8,000.00 a year. Why? Because of the systemic response to a disability people choose to ignore. One of the things that the article did not mention is that I am, in fact, a person with multiple disabilities. In that vein, this is "now":

Background: The Ministry of Health in BC presents the following statistics on its website.

These statistics are "so" misleading it is beneath contempt. What they actually "reflect" is the waiting time for surgery _from the time the secretary books the OR_, not from time of diagnosis itself - and the wait for booking initial consult, pre-op surgical tests - all of it.

For example, I fell in March 2006, I require an _open-reduction/internal-fixation_ on my left foot so I can walk.

It took me 2 years to wait for an appointment with a surgeon.

I had a pre-op test booked for tomorrow (Dipomedrol injection on X-ray) to pinpoint the pain in my foot - and also, I think, would alleviate pain re walking. It is, however, a pre-op test.

This is the med that I got a prescription for today,

Took it to the drug store, it's not covered and I can't afford to pay for it (I am on a very fixed income, Canada Pension Disability federally and Person with Multiple Disabilities in BC.)

As an aside, the BC government will cover any and all psychotropic meds for things like anxiety and depression. Who, in their right mind, would not be anxious and depressed about becoming yet one more casualty on the construct of this waiting list. You can't get surgery, etc., but this government will happily keep you sedated while it creates iatrogenic waiting list casualties. The particular medication that I was prescribed for this test is a steroid that can provide pain relief for 1 wk - 2 months based on the monogram I've provide above. No, it's not covered, but Oxycocet is. Oxycocet is a narcotic that your doctor may prescribe, however, anyone else will stigmatize you (including other healthcare professionals) for taking it (while the government disallows non-narcotic coverage.)

So, I can't have the test - what does that mean, I won't be getting the surgery? I'm already on year "Three" waiting for it.

And yet, the BC government says that "people only wait 3-4 months, if that).

And I'm not unique with respect to others on waiting lists and time frames. I'm just one more person standing in line - a very long line.

It's all smoke and mirrors - BC Health with say that they are not responsible for Min of Social Development - ministry responsible for coverage - as is Pharmacare. So, we all slip through the cracks because it's someone "else's" responsibility. It's a shell game.

What I find nauseating, in constellation with the above? This government rails against taxpayer money being spent to support the disabled - well, might I not-so-respectfully suggest to this government that come down from their throne and provide the medical required (and medications) so that we all don't "have" to be?????

What arrogant contempt the BC government has for the intelligence of the people they "purportedly" represent.

This is just one more way the BC government puts your tax dollars to work?

Anne Faulkner

Abbotsford, BC

As for hyperacusis, even normal hearing people, I don't believe, would want picolos/English Bobby whistles blowing 30 feet from your door every day for 3 hours.

As for the dog? Well, there have been complaints (I have oopies of them) about that dog barking since 2004 - I wasn't living - or I have ever been in Abbotsford prior to March 2006.

I never complained about children playing. What I "did" do however, when I moved in on the day I signed my lease, state to the Building Manager that I could not live next to children because of the high pitch of their voices, and that I was glad to be old enough that I could move into a seniors building so there would not be children here.

None of my issues around hyperacusis, however, touch on the issues surrounding most people on waiting lists as referred to re surgery.

Also, before I'm stated to by an ignormant who knows nothing, who should go live in a cave, before I was diagnosed with hyperacusis, I worked in hospitals for 20 years, and you may include the study of bioethics


Do "Not" be fool enough to think that there is a healthcare system in BC. Ask a Doctor. Ask a nurse.

Ask one of the individuals you decry when you see them hobbling down the street (because they've been waiting 2 years to "see" a Doctor", before you tell them they don't a have right to exist in polite society.

You think, in arrogance, it can't happen to you? You hold that thought..

Have a nice day.

Maria said...

Folow up to The Pr4vince newspaper article

Anne said...

I'm doing research on hyperacusus/speech pathology/noise induced trauma .
However, the biggest handicap is imposed by government who, have put me in a position where I can't work of function. people become disabled end filing bankruptcytold by Trustees to just stay on disability because it can't be garnished, etc. I don't understand the point. What if you _want_ to work?

My case, has already been decided by the Supreme Court - not a lawyer, but somewhere on analogous or enumerated grounds. The URL I'm attaching is to that case.
It is of note that what is spoken to are "Deaf_and_ hearing impaired" I have no access to the judicial system, even lawyers complaint BC court costs, highest in Canada. One of the reasons they won't do pro bono-contingency work.

BC and fedetal Ministries would not be saved by Section 1 of the Charter, how much does it cost to email?

Throughout the decision, they talk about the Hearing Impaired, and, yes, Eldridge is referred (they were deaf) but even that case has the wording deaf _and_ hearing impaired.. Interestingly, most of the cases I've found about obtructive failure to accommodate disabilities originate in BC. For me, even the BC Human Rights Tribunal refused to admit medical records/test results, etc.

So, don't ever think this is just about the neighbours. If I had had accommodation from the govt in the first place, in 2004, I would, I am sure, be self-employed and somewhere else, but all the decisions made by government wiped out all my assets, balance protection, everything. Because federal Human Rights said my disability was not relevant to the legislation and/or it's application.

Anyway, this has all been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada - they have to *(well, apparently they don't, according to the BCHRT and the Attorney-General) and the cost is "nothing".

Just a note on the email business. I did file a Complaint against the Ministry of Housing and Social Development because I had no way of getting in touch with them, and they would not give me a private line- and they absolutely refused to email with me. So, during this "joke" of the Human Rights Process, who emailed me? The lawyer representing the Ministry - sent me about 6, but wouldn't answer them. And BCHRT, although the Case Manager did before, this one decided not to, did not even answer my mailed request to do so, had all my request for accommodation (email, etc.) and refused to admit medical evidence.

No-one knows more than me what a joke Human Rights is for the disabled. I'm _here_ because of Human Rights decisions.

If you are interested in the history since 2004, it is on my blog to date. I admit it is reactive to situational stress, it is what it is.

but the Attorney-General's lawyer can email and did. I, however, was not permitted to or acknowledged, despite the fact that BCHRT had all the request forms from March. Those people have the moral compass of a door knob.

I have a blog on Blogger that gives the hx since 2004, but I'd rather give you the SCC decision.

As for those who say, that's just the way it is? You're right - all over. But then, we allow it, don't we. And, one might ask.. what are you going to do when it happens to you.

Jonathan said...

The most critical responsibility of the tenant is to comply to the rental agreement that he has entered into with the landlord. The one thing that the landlords are particularly fussy about is receiving the rent in full and on time. Make sure as a tenant you do not give a chance to your landlord to crib about late receipts of rentals. I am sure once the landlord gets an assurance and comfort based on your track record of timely payments he would do everything possible to keep you in good humor by fulfilling his duties and responsibilities. The second big responsibility that the tenant has is to keep his rented premises clean and in good shape. The tenant must respect and adhere to the HOA rules applicable for his residence. The tenant must not abuse the various fixtures and equipment that has been provided for by the landlord. For more details visit us at sitting tenant.

Maria said...

Jonathan, thanks for your post. This issue has never been about payment of rent - I've rented for.. 40 years? and have never been late on my rent. This entire issue is about accommodating for a disability (for which the landlord had been given full documentation and explanations at the time of lease signing). I have never had a landlord like this to be truthful and have excellent references from all others. Imagine (this is probably a bad analogy but the first that comes to me) if I were in a wheelchair, the landlord rented me an apartment, and then refused to put an accessible ramp in, telling me to move out if I couldn't handle it. It has nothing to do with payment of rent. Actually, I did miss on payment because of a bank error. Really PayPal, who went into my account and withdrew funds without my knowledge. because they did that, my rent check bounced. I had checked my bank account on line and realized it, told the landlord, before she found out through an NSF check normal route, and paid rent in cash. I thought I had had cheques made for my checking, but I had actually had them on my savings so I would just put enough money in to cover rent and PayPal items. PayPal double withdrew or something - and everything after that - well there were non sufficient funds, because of the double-dipping (?) by PayPal. That is the only time in my life that there is a rent payment issue. This is about "disability". Under the landlord/tenant act, the landlord is to accommodate in these ways, however, in my case, I can't get accommodation for the Landlord Tenant ministry either as I cannot talk to them and they won't email. FYI, I had a _normal_ hearing test done a couple of months ago - the same one that everyone has - and they could not test me because of pain responses over 25dB. The diangosis of hyperacusis is one that no civilian side of government will recognize. It is similar to Lime disease - government claims test not specific enough - and won't cover treatment, so many have to go the US and pay by cash, and what does that do to a self-sufficient family - having to rent planes, etc. Hyperacusis is a medical disability under Veterans Affairs Canada - I've never understood how that works. If I were in the military or a veteran, I would have hyperacusis, but I cross the street, demob, as it were, and all of a sudden, I don't? so therefore, I must have a psychiatric disorder? I have talked to one or two psychiatrists who will not even include hyperacusis in AXIS I and II, but in III, because it is a medical disability. People applying for Workmens comp, etc., get the same story I have. So, I'm responding to your post because, how can these ministries ignore the test results of a regular, normal, hearing test? or insurance companies, or employment. There are 2 parts to it, soft sound testing and loud. Not an audiologist, but I gather soft sound testing is up to 25dB. The audiologist would not do the loud sound testing on me, because anything over 25dB caused too much of a pain response, and she didn't want to hurt my ears. So, maybe the answer is for people with hyperacusis to simply use the results of a regular hearing test - because I would imagine within that there is range of "normal" hearing. This also isn't about having people, or the state, support me. It is about the implementation of legislation which does not take a disability into account when applying it, thereby making it impossible to function. It has never been the disability itself, it has been about the response and handicapping.

Maria said...

ps - here is a link to the landlord's office. This iniital complaint was filed in.. 2008. Anyway, this photo was was taken in 2009. You will note the cover of the Province newspaper, with my face on it, beside the visitors' chair. It is still there as the only reading material available to any visitor. I have letters from people outling the comments that have been made about me further to visitors' inquiry. I just took one a month or two ago. The newspaper is still the only reading material in the landlord's office. It is now 2010.
All because of a medical disability.

Maria said...

I am going to try to explain hyperacusis - which is difficult to understand because people perceive hearing disabilities as _deafness_. I have normal hearing by standards,
In point of fact,I have excellent hearing. Hyperacusis is not hearing _loss_. It is, rather, more about pain tolerance at a dB rating.

Here's just one of many links on this.

By normal standards, a normal hearing person would not experience pain until around 130dB rate. it's not that I have hearing loss, it's that my pain tolerance is at 25dB, so maybe that means that the pain that normal hearing people only feel at 130dB, I hear 24/7 at 25db. So maybe it would be a thought for anyone that wants to know what having hyperacusis is like? Put yourself in an environment where you are exposed to 130dB + for a week (I truly do not advise it).

As for government response, at least here in BC, that is documented - in terms of attitude. There is the Eldridge Case, which did have to do with deafness. These individuals needed sign language interpreters in hospitals so that they could be _fully informed_ and understand their procedures, test results - much of which is in medical language. They could not understand everything - would you go for surgery, if you couldn't understand what it was about? or why? Hospitals refused to provide these interpreters (similar to refusal to denying Braille to the blind), so the complaint was filed. The Complainants won in the BC Supreme Court, the BC Attorney General appealed it and it went it's way up the ladder to the Supreme Court of Canada, where the Eldridge's won, again.

I don't understand why this issue even rose to a court case, simply because, don't we all know that the deaf speak through sign language? I don't understand the attitude of the Attorney-General in this just.. awful response to deafness. This is not a case that should have ever had to exist. I wonder how much it actually _cost_ in the end to have sign language interpreters on call through Deaf Societies, etc., not much, me thinks. So, for anyone that argues this, it's like saying that deaf don't need to know what there is chemo is, for example, moreover "why" - just that they have cancer, and it they don't understand? Oncology research, for example.. You don't need to _understand_ what the research is.. Who do you think you are? How _dare_ you suggest the principle of Informed Consent in Research Ethics applies to you??? After all, it's a tough world all over. Sign the Consent or, .. what? The message is that the deaf (this is hypothetical now) do not need to know as much as normal-hearing persons.

I wonder how many people would actually consent to treatment without knowing what it was, or side-effects, risks, benefits.

And this.. not rocket-science need for accommodation for the deaf being seen in hospitals actually was taken to the Supreme Court????? Speaking of using resources and.. did this even rise to that except for the government response (hospitals are government funded and operate under legislation)

No, I do not understand the attitude/conduct of government at all.

Maria said...

Also, just thinking (disability accommodation is not particular to a specific disability but rather how "disabilities" are responded to by government.. In terms of the deaf having difficulties in hospitals in understanding procedures, etc (technical language not accustomed to?), I don't understand what is said to me in hospitals (or government office/waiting rooms/background noise) either and have been treated like I am a trouble-maker when I say so. I'll never go to hospital again beyond tests/MRI's, etc., or day surgery but, rather, with respect to being an in-patient. It's just torture, and responded to hostilely. And it's just not worth it. If I have a heart attack, my heart stops? I do not want CPR, let God sort it out - if it's my time. Because if I was given CPR, then I would be admitted to hospital, and I can't ever go through that again. And yes, people are correct.. that is my decision.