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Former rodeo contractor now ‘representative complainant’ in human rights complaint – Surrey Now-Leader

A former communications contractor for the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association is taking on the role of “Representative Complainant” in the Human Rights complaint filed against the Association in 2021.

Former contractor Laura Ballance, president of LBMG (Laura Ballance Media Group), posted an appeal on Twitter March 3.

In the Tweet Ballance wrote, “Hardest decision of my professional career but I know in my heart it is the right thing to do,” she wrote. “So many brave women, so many years, so many witnesses.”

Ballance then asks anyone who was impacted by potential harassment to visit the Allevato, Quail, and Roy website.

In another social post, this time to Facebook, Ballance said, “I have made the incredibly difficult decision to take on the role of Representative Complainant in a highly publicized Human Rights case against the @cloverdalerodeo.”

Ballance wrote she couldn’t comment on specifics, but that she looked forward to going to a hearing so “the many, many witnesses can have an opportunity to testify and the full magnitude of the abuses are brought forward and the brave women who have come forward can have their day in court. I look forward to connecting with employees, volunteers, and contractors who have been impacted by the conduct of the Association and the City (of Surrey).”

Ballance then also appealed for people to visit the law firm’s website.

SEE ALSO: Sexism, systemic racism allegations leveled at Cloverdale rodeo

SEE ALSO: Racism allegations hard to believe say three South Asians with ties to Rodeo

SEE ALSO: Cloverdale Rodeo Association addresses Human Rights complaint

the Cloverdale Reporter reached out to Ballance, but did not hear back by publication time.

The human rights complaint in question was filed against the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association on behalf of multiple victims with the BC Human Rights Tribunal on July 12, 2021.

The complaint was filed by a lawyer “on behalf of workers and volunteers who have experienced discrimination contrary to section 13 of the Human Rights Code committed by the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association.”

In the complaint, allegations of eight years of systemic racism, sexism and physical abuse were leveled at Mike MacSorley, former general manager of the Association.

The complaint contends, from 2014 to 2021, the non-profit association employed MacSorley as general manager even though they knew of his “blatantly racist views of South Asian people and ongoing egregious conduct toward female staff and volunteers.”

The complaint also alleges key board members from the Association—at that time, president Shannon Claypool, vice-presidents Dale Saip and Rich Kitos, and treasurer Gerry Spielmacher—were made aware of the allegations but did nothing to fix the situation and that they conspired to cover it up.

The Association addressed the Human Rights complaint in a press release issued July 26, two weeks after the story broke.

In the release, the Association said it takes the allegations against them very seriously and they are “vigorously working” to gather all the information they can. “The (Association) will respond fully within the process determined by the Human Rights Tribunal.”

The release explained three steps the board had taken—prior to the filing of the Human Rights complaint—after an internal human resources investigation was undertaken in February of 2021 to address concerns at the time.

The release noted, “The general manager responsible was removed in February; a draft for Respectful Workplace Policy has been developed; a process for anonymous reporting of workplace concerns to an independent professional is included in that policy.”

Only Spielmacher is still on the Association’s board (president) as both Claypool and Saip were voted out at the AGM in October, 2021, while Kitos resigned from the board in December, 2021.

The Tribunal has yet to make a decision on whether it will hear the case or not.
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