November 5, 2020
By Jeremy Hainsworth, Burnaby Now
Employees are entitled to work in civil, respectful and dignified conditions, Vancouver lawyer Cathering Repel said in a November 5 online legal seminar.
And, Repel said, if those things are absent, there are the makings of a toxic or poisoned workplace.
It’s in such workplaces that an employee may be unable to meet the terms of their employment, she said.
She provided the example of a case where a manager had snapped a female employee’s bra straps, slapped her backside, made comments about her clothing, told sexualized jokes and made fun of her accent.
“The owner and manager terminated the employee when she told him his actions were unacceptable and he had to stop,” Repel said.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice upheld a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decision in the case at a cost of $30,000 to the employer.
In a 2000 Coquitlam case, a pub kitchen manager was rude and abrasive when dealing with front of house staff about food complaints, yelling at an employee when customers could hear. Repel said the front of house manager was unable to do her job and resigned as the owners sided with the kitchen manager. She claimed constructive dismissal. That successful claim cost the employer $38,300.
In human rights terms, Repel said, a workplace much be free of harassment or discrimination. The latter is outlined under B.C.’s Human Rights Code with areas of discrimination being race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, marital or family status, age, political belief and criminal conviction not related to employment.