CALGARY, AB, Dec. 30, 2020 /CNW/ – Calgary-based employment lawyer, Stephen Dugandzic, has filed a human rights complaint against the Law Society of Alberta (“LSA”) in what is being described as a “total nightmare” and “targeted attack” on Dugandzic’s health by staff at Alberta’s self-governing regulator of the Province’s legal profession.
In a 16-page Statement of Complaint filed with the Alberta Human Rights Commission on December 14, 2020, it is alleged that a small group of staff at the LSA systematically set out to target Dugandzic and his health over the course of the last 2.5 years in what was a calculated and carefully coordinated effort to exacerbate Dugandzic’s pre-existing medical conditions and marginalize him.
The complaint states that LSA staff were aware of Dugandzic’s ongoing troubles with Post-Concussion Syndrome in connection with two traumatic brain injuries Dugandzic had sustained in recent years. “This group of five or six people knew I was suffering from the debilitating effects of concussion and traumatic brain injury during what was an already difficult and busy time in my professional and personal lives. There was never any offer of accommodation or support, not even well-wishes,” says Dugandzic.
Dugandzic founded YYC Employment Law Group in 2018 (“YYC”). YYC was forward-thinking and provided an innovative alternative to an outdated model in the Calgary legal market. YYC quickly differentiated its brand and emerged as a strong force in Calgary’s market. The Firm assisted over 1,000 Calgary-based employees and had developed a prominent presence in the community.
“The public feedback was great, but the legal profession is averse to change,” Dugandzic comments. “The ‘old boys’ club’ mentality of the 1970’s still prevails and if you’re not a part of it, watch out. I tried to effect meaningful change, something the public had been demanding for years. Our regulator shut me down by intentionally targeting my one vulnerability – my health. It’s an unconscionable abuse.”
Since 2018, Dugandzic says he was relentlessly subjected to unfounded administrative complaints from his competitors and LSA staff in what had amounted to a “bizarre pattern” of harassment and discrimination. It was alleged that Dugandzic’s publication of awards recognizing his contributions to the public were a violation of the Code of Conduct, something other Alberta-based lawyers have done for decades, without issue. When Dugandzic highlighted the clear “double-standard,” he says things only worsened. “Benchers of the Law Society were publicly endorsing other lawyers’ communication of the same award while they were simultaneously attempting to discipline me for identical conduct. It made no sense, and my concerns were brazenly ignored. When I voiced my concerns about these bullying tactics and noted that my health was suffering because of it, the campaign against me only intensified.”
YYC has ceased operations and Dugandzic’s health has been irreparably harmed. “Everything is gone – my career, financial security and health,” says Dugandzic. “They have intentionally forced me out of the profession.” Dugandzic says there is a well-known mental health crisis plaguing the legal profession, one the LSA has not only ignored, but perpetuated. “It’s 2020 and fundamental reform is overdue. The idea of lawyers regulating lawyers does not work,” notes Dugandzic. “It’s a broken system ripe for abuse.”
Dugandzic’s human rights complaint against the LSA seeks lost income he says will never be realized because of “the truly bizarre circumstances under which the regulative powers of the LSA are being perverted” to effectively drum him out of the profession by deliberately targeting his health.
SOURCE Stephen Dugandzic