What started as a difficult season for the Vancouver Canucks on the ice might also shape up to be a difficult season for the team off the ice.
In September 2022, the Canucks parted ways with analyst and assistant to the video coach, Rachel Doerrie. The firing was shrouded in speculation, which was only further exacerbated when Doerrie hired Vancouver-based labour lawyer Peter Gall in October.
Now, following documents shared by Doerrie on Twitter on Sunday, the reason for Doerrie seeking legal representation has become clear. Doerrie has filed a human rights complaint alleging discrimination from Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.
After her initial hiring, Doerrie was promoted within the Canucks organization. Following her promotion, Doerrie shared a news article about herself on social media, which included praise from Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau. Doerrie said she was then called to speak with Castonguay, who alleged Doerrie had inappropriately spoken to the media about her promotion. In this meeting, Castonguay allegedly made the statements “you’re not important enough to be cared about” and “no one in the media is your friend.” She also allegedly stated, “I don’t know if you have what it takes to do the job, mentally.”
This final statement is a major focus of Doerrie’s complaint, as she disclosed a mental illness, including post-traumatic stress syndrome and associated panic and anxiety attacks and depression, to the Canucks while interviewing for her job.
According to the Appendix document Doerrie released on social media, her lawyers claim, “It is clear, based on all of the circumstances of this case, that Ms. Doerrie’s sex and physical and mental disabilities played a role in the termination of her employment.” Specifically, their claims are resulting from “the hurtful, insensitive, and insulting comments by Ms. Castonguay, describing Ms. Doerrie as unimportant, not worthy of concern, and mentally incapable of performing her job.”
Doerrie’s complaint also outlines a heart condition and the issues women face in the hockey industry. She said she suffered multiple cardiac episodes and anxiety attacks as a result of Castonguay's comments.
The Canucks and Castonguay both responded publicly Sunday night after Doerrie’s posts emerged.
“I take a lot of pride in my work with the Vancouver Canucks, being a good leader, a person of high moral character, and always respecting and putting my co-workers first,” Castonguay stated, as reported by Jeff Marek. “These allegations by Ms. Doerrie are absolutely not true and her allegations of what I said to her are false and inaccurate. At no time was Ms. Doerrie treated differently due to gender, a mental disability or a physical condition. As this is a legal matter, I will not make any further comments and will respect the process.”
Canucks Sports & Entertainment also commented saying, “We strongly disagree with the allegations brought forth by Ms. Doerrie. Our organization provided Ms. Doerrie with all the necessary resources, support and opportunities to succeed in her role. We acted in good faith and abided by our contractual obligations, both during and after Ms. Doerrie’s employment with the organization. As this is a legal matter, we will respond accordingly at the proper time.”
Prior to working with the Canucks, Doerrie spent time with the New Jersey Devils as a player information and video analyst.
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