Contents


BC Human Rights Tribunal

I was harassed

These case summaries show examples of the awards the Tribunal has made when a person has suffered injury to their dignity and self-respect because of discrimination. The summaries also show what other awards were made, like compensation for lost wages or other expenses.



Coreas and Coreas v. Tuyen (No. 3), 2012 BCHRT 218 ($1,000 and $1,500)

Area:                Tenancy
Grounds:          Lawful source of income (perceived to be on welfare)
Discrimination: Harassment

Ms. Coreas - $1,000

The discrimination:   Ms. Coreas and her children rented a suite at Ms. Tuyen's home.  Ms. Tuyen saw a letter from the BC Government to Ms. Coreas and wrongly assumed that she was on welfare. Ms. Tuyen began insulting Ms. Coreas about being on welfare. One day when Ms. Coreas was having some new furniture delivered, Ms. Tuyen asked her how she could afford new furniture when she was on welfare.

Vulnerability:  Ms. Coreas had been on welfare before, but she was not very vulnerable at the time. Also, she added to the conflict with Ms. Tuyen. Once, she slapped Ms. Tuyen. She secretly tape recorded what Ms. Tuyen said. She replayed the comments to herself.

Effect:  Ms. Coreas was hurt by Ms. Tuyen's comments because she had been on welfare before. But Ms. Coreas chose to listen to the recordings over and over, which likely prolonged her hurt feelings. Also, Ms. Coreas was partly responsible for the conflict with Ms. Tuyen.

Ms. Coreas’ daughter - $1,500

Discrimination:  Ms. Tuyen said insulting things about her mother being on welfare. She called her mother a "whore". Ms. Tuyen said that when the daughter grows up, she should get a job and not be on welfare like her mom.

Vulnerability:  The daughter was 16. She depended on her mother and her mother's source of income.

Effect:  The daughter felt embarrassed, humiliated, insulted, and angry.

Gardner and another v. Geldenhuys, 2014 BCHRT 150 ($1,500 and $2,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Race, place of origin and colour (Filipina)
Discrimination: Racist harassment

Ms. Jurao - $2,000

The discrimination:  Ms. Jurao’s supervisor criticised her for not wearing a proper uniform. The supervisor did not criticise non-Filipino staff for the same thing. The supervisor talked about other Filipino employees who were disciplined or dismissed. She said that "Filipinos are gossipers".

Vulnerability:  The supervisor had a position of power. Ms. Jurao was afraid of losing her job.

Effect:  Ms. Jurao felt singled out for criticism. She felt embarrassed and threatened in her employment.  She was having on-going trouble sleeping and feeling powerless.

Ms. Gardner - $1,500

The discrimination:   Ms. Gardner’s supervisor called her into the office and said things like: "What is wrong with you Filipinos?", "Is it your culture?” and "You Filipinos have problems to work".

Vulnerability:  The supervisor had a position of power.  

Effect:  Ms. Gardner was demoralized. She felt devalued, singled out and targeted because she was Filipina.  She said that she felt unwelcome in her workplace of 34 years.

MacDonald v. Najafi and another (No. 2), 2013 BCHRT 13 ($4,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment, causing job loss
Wage loss:       $5,291.50
Other awards:  $306.79 (expenses)

The discrimination:   Ms. MacDonald took a job with the respondent. Mr. Najafi made comments like: “You are cold; maybe you need a man to keep you warm” and “Maybe I will have to marry you.” He called her “hot and sexy”. On occasion, he would say “hey” and point to the seat next to him. He also whistled for her. It was reasonable for her to decide that she could not remain in her job.

Vulnerability:  There was a big age gap between Ms. MacDonald (mid-twenties) and Mr. Najafi (early 60s). She was in vulnerable financial circumstances that made it hard for her to object or leave.

Effect:  Ms. MacDonald said leaving her job was difficult, financially and emotionally. She had to go on social assistance and use a food bank for the first time. She said Mr. Najafi’s conduct made her feel uncomfortable and demeaned. She felt trapped. The conduct was insensitive, demeaning, and persistent. However, it was all verbal and was infrequent. The psychological impact was modest.

Root v. Ray Ray’s Beach Club and others, 2013 BCHRT 143 ($5,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment

The discrimination:   Ms. Root worked at a bar. One evening, the owner, who was drunk, struck her very hard on the buttocks three times.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Ms. Root said she was shocked and upset. It was painful and embarrassing. Patrons were laughing. She felt violated.

Soroka v. Dave’s Custom Metal Works and others, 2010 BCHRT 239 ($5,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment and fired from job
Wage loss:       $2,912

The discrimination:   Ms. Soroka began work as a labourer. She injured her hand and was off work. Mr. MacDonnell, a supervisor, began calling and texting her. His texts said he could “meet her needs”, and asked about her boyfriend. She reported this behaviour to the owner who gave Mr. MacDonnell a verbal warning. When she returned to work, Mr. MacDonnell drove Ms. Soroka to pick up parts at his home shop. He told her he had wanted to bring her to the shop to show her that “you can’t fuck in a place like this.” He offered to show her where he slept. He said he should have taken advantage of her when he had the chance. He said if she wanted to mess with his job, he would do it right back. When they got back to work, her co-workers were laughing and asked how the “love shack” was. When she reported this to her manager the next morning, he fired her.

Vulnerability:  Ms. Soroka was 21. Mr. MacDonnell was well over twice her age. Ms. Soroka was also inexperienced.

Effect:  Ms. Soroka reacted clearly and strongly to the harassment. She still had negative feelings about it. She did not give evidence about its psychological impact on her.

Behm v. 6-4-1 Holdings and others, 2008 BCHRT 286 ($5,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment, causing job loss
Wage loss:         $393.75

The discrimination:   Ms. Behm started a new job. She was walking with a co-worker, Mr. Burnett, and told him to “go ahead”. He said, “No, no, no, I like the view from behind.” Another time, he asked her for a hug. Finally, he cupped her buttock with his hand. She reported the conduct to her boss who said Mr. Bennett would not do anything like that. Ms. Behm did not go back to work. She had worked 11 shifts over 20 days.

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Ms. Behm was upset by the comment and embarrassed by the request for a hug. She was in shock when Mr. Bennett touched her. She said she was so upset when she drove away that she almost hit another car. Her husband said she was shocked, freaked out, shaking and crying. After, she had feelings of depression and withdrew into herself. She was stressed and picked at her face. A doctor suggested anti-depressants and counselling, but she decided to deal with the situation with her husband. She was able to continue her other part-time employment.

Kwan v. Marzara and another (No. 3), 2009 BCHRT 418 ($6,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment causing job loss
Wage loss:       $1,120

The discrimination:   Mr. Marzara was a regular customer at the restaurant where Ms. Kwan worked. Mr. Marzara knew that Ms. Kwan had recently graduated and wanted an entry level office job. He invited her to apply to work at his company. Over five days, Mr. Marzara sexually harassed Ms. Kwan. He hugged her at the job interview. He hugged and kissed her on the lips when she signed the employment agreement the next day. He phoned her at home on a Saturday to ask her out for coffee. On her first day of work, he hugged and kissed her on the lips. He asked personal questions. He told her that he thought she would be someone special to him.  Ms. Kwan told Mr. Marzara to stop. She felt that she had no choice but to quit the next day.  

Vulnerability:  Ms. Kwan was in a vulnerable position.  She was looking for her first job outside of a restaurant. Mr. Marzara was in a position of authority over her.  There was a big age difference: she was 24 and Mr. Marzara was in his mid-50s.

Effect:  Mr. Marzara's conduct shocked Ms. Kwan and made her feel scared, uneasy and concerned.  She was more wary and untrusting of people. She needed counselling from her pastor to help her recover.

Tyler v. Robnik and Mobility World (No. 2), 2010 BCHRT 192 ($6,500)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment causing job loss

The discrimination:   During training, Ms. Tyler’s supervisor offered her his hotel room card. One evening he called her home, and asked if she wanted to go to his hotel. Once at work, he said her legs looked smooth and touched her leg.  

Vulnerability:  None identified.

Effect:  Ms. Tyler said the behaviour was upsetting and made her feel sick.

Q v. Wild Log Homes and another, 2012 BCHRT 135 ($7,500 and $8,000)

Area:                Employment, Retaliation
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment (comments and physical) causing job loss; Retaliation

The discrimination:   Mr. Walker owned a business where Q worked as his bookkeeper for about one month.  During that time, Mr. Walker grabbed and squeezed her buttocks. He kissed her two different times. He poked her breasts. He asked her if she had a boyfriend. He expressed his feelings for her when they talked and by email. Q asked him to stop, but he did not. Q left her job because of the sexual harassment.

Mr. Walker also retaliated against Q for filing a human rights complaint. He tried to intimidate her. He was overly aggressive, disruptive and disrespectful during the hearing process.  He also sued her in
B.C. Supreme Court for the money spent to defend the complaint. He filed over 50 applications in court that Q had to deal with.

Vulnerability:  Q was vulnerable because she did not want to lose her job. She lived alone and needed a pay cheque.

Effect:    The harassment and retaliation had a major psychological effect on Q.  Q felt that Mr. Walker was using the legal system to stalk her. She was terrified of him. She was reminded of the sexual harassment and could not put it behind her. She had anxiety, depression and panic attacks. She was very upset throughout the proceedings. She was overwhelmed and exhausted. Although Q did not submit any medical evidence, the Tribunal accepted that the emotional impact on Q was significant and ongoing. 

The Tribunal awarded Q $7,500 for the sexual harassment and $8,000 for the retaliation.

MacGarvie v. Friedmann (No. 4), 2009 BCHRT 47 ($10,000)

Area:                Tenancy
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment causing loss of housing
Other awards:  $1,922.84

The discrimination:   During a 12 month lease, Ms. MacGarvie’s landlord often came to her door and made inappropriate comments. For example, he would look at her body and smile or ask if she was losing weight. One day he brought a mirror. While he looked towards her bedroom, he said the mirror was so that she could see herself. When a male friend once visited her, the landlord kept asking if the man was her boyfriend. The landlord became angry and demanded that her friend leave the building. The landlord also touched Ms. MacGarvie's buttocks on one occasion. 

Vulnerability:  Ms. MacGarvie was a 28 year old student with limited funds. She was fairly new to Vancouver and did not have many friends or family in the city. The landlord had power over her because a nice reasonably priced apartment in a good location is very hard to find. 

Effect:  Ms. MacGarvie felt that her privacy had been violated and she was afraid of her landlord. She needed to move because of the sexual harassment but was afraid to do so. Once she gave notice, the landlord would have to come into her apartment to show it to possible tenants. One day he pushed his way into her apartment. Ms. MacGarvie testified that she continued to fear for her safety.

Note: This decision was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in Friedmann v. MacGarvie, 2012 BCCA 109.

McIntosh v. Metro Aluminum Products and another, 2011 BCHRT 34 ($12,500)

Area:                Employment
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment causing job loss
Wage loss:       $14,493.80
Other awards:  $2,900.85 (expenses)

The discrimination:   Ms. McIntosh worked at Metro Aluminum Products. The company’s owner kept sending her sexual text messages. They said things like "need a nooner", "how about a bj", "I need a horny woman" and "nice ass". The messages also called her names such as "cunt" and "bitch".  Ms. McIntosh asked the owner to stop sending these texts but he would not. In three months, he sent hundreds of messages. As a result, Ms. McIntosh left her job.

Vulnerability:  Ms. McIntosh needed her job for financial security and it was the owner harassing her. She also had a medical condition that is made worse by stress.

Effect:  The sexual harassment had a significant and ongoing emotional and physical impact on Ms. McIntosh.  She testified that the texts made her "feel like garbage". They made her working life very hard. The stress became overwhelming. It aggravated her colitis. Medical notes confirmed that she needed a lengthy time away from work due to "work related stress" and that she had ongoing problems with her colitis. 

Note: This decision was upheld by the BC Supreme Court in McIntosh v. Metro Aluminum Products Ltd., 2012 BCSC 345.

Garneau v. Buy-Rite Foods and others, 2015 BCHRT 77 ($15,000)

Area:                Employment      
Grounds:          Physical and mental disability, sexual orientation
Discrimination: Harassment causing job loss
Wage loss:       $936

The discrimination:   Mr. Garneau worked at Buy-Rite as a supervisor.  For over 20 months, Buy-Rite's owner and his two sons called him names like "faggot", "idiot", "retard" and "fucking stupid". They did this in front of his co-workers and customers. They also kept asking him “are you gay, are you gay, are you gay".  He asked them to stop but they would not. Twice, the owner’s son physically assaulted Mr. Garneau at work.

Vulnerability:  Mr. Garneau was born with a condition where the two sides of the brain are joined together rather than being separate. The condition showed in his appearance and impaired his mental abilities. It was hard for Mr. Garneau to find and keep a job because of his disability. His job options were quite limited. He was in an extremely vulnerable position in his employment. He tried to stay on as long as possible. When the situation became unbearable, he felt he had to quit his job.    

Effect:  Mr. Garneau testified that the constant name-calling in front of customers and co-workers was hurtful and offensive. The comments, physical assaults and threats made him feel powerless and less than human. He felt depressed and suicidal.         

Harrison v. Nixon Safety Consulting and others (No. 3), 2008 BCHRT 462 ($15,000)

Area:                Employment
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment causing job loss
Wage loss:       $14,144

The discrimination:   Ms. Harrison worked for Nixon Safety Consulting as a Safety Officer at a construction site. For two months, the man in charge of the construction project made sexual comments to her. He offered to trade truck tires if she had sex with him. He showed her pornography on his computer. Once, he slapped her buttocks. She was fired soon after she complained about this to management.

Vulnerability:    Ms. Harrison was in a very vulnerable position when she was sexually harassed at work by a person in a position of authority over her. She was a 27 year old single mother with two young children. She was new to this workplace and trying to establish her career.  She needed this job because it was her only means of financial support.

Effect:  Ms. Harrison felt isolated and vulnerable. She testified that she often went home and cried at the end of the workday. She described feeling very vulnerable when she was fired.

Bro and Scott v. Moody (No. 2), 2010 BCHRT 8 ($15,000 each)

Area:                Tenancy
Grounds:          Disability, lawful source of income, sexual orientation
Discrimination: Harassment causing loss of housing

The discrimination:   Mr. Bro is a gay man. Mr. Scott identifies as two-spirited. The men were roommates. Both were unable to work because they had HIV-AIDS and other serious disabilities. They lived on CPP and provincial disability benefits. Their landlord got angry when they asked him to repair problems in the house. He called them names like "faggot" and "fairy" and "AIDS-infected faggots" living on "welfare". One day, he forced his way into the house and assaulted Mr. Bro. Another time, the landlord’s agent assaulted Mr. Scott with a steel pipe while calling him names. This discrimination continued for three months until the men moved out.

Vulnerability:  Mr. Bro and Mr. Scott were extremely vulnerable because of their sexual orientation, disabilities, and lawful sources of income. Both men were physically fragile with limited mobility. This made them more vulnerable to any physical threat.     

Effect: The discrimination had a severe and profound impact.

Mr. Bro - $15,000

Mr. Bro testified that he had experienced homophobia, but had never been treated this way. He felt violated by the home invasion and did not feel safe in his home. He fell into a depression that re-triggered effects from childhood abuse. He became hopeless and stopped taking his medication, which could have had life threatening effects. Eventually, he went on anti-depressants and entered counselling to try and cope with what had happened. Mr. Bro was still in therapy at the time of the hearing.

Mr. Scott - $15,000

Mr. Scott testified that the landlord’s conduct caused a similar sense of violation to when he was sexually abused as a child. He described how the landlord used hateful words as bullets to wound, shoot down his self-esteem and demean his character. When the discrimination began, he suffered a relapse in his eating disorder. The landlord’s conduct shattered his sense of security. It shook his trust in others. He was afraid of going out. He explained that the conduct was "so vile" that it made him feel hopeless. He stopped taking his medication as a result.

Pardy v. Earle and others (No. 4), 2011 BCHRT 101 ($22,500)

Area:                Service customarily available to the public
Grounds:          Sex and sexual orientation
Discrimination: Harassment
Wage loss:       $320

The discrimination:   Ms. Pardy was a customer at a restaurant. Mr. Earle
was the master-of-ceremonies at an "open mic" comedy show at the restaurant. Ms. Pardy, her girlfriend and a friend were sitting together at the show. When Ms. Pardy's girlfriend kissed her cheek, Mr. Earle began insulting them. He called them “stupid dykes" and "fucking cunts". He angrily approached their table. Ms. Pardy threw a glass of water in his face and said, "don't come near our table". Mr. Earle went back on stage and made more of the same type of comments. When the show ended, he approached again, agitated and angry. Ms. Pardy threw another glass of water in his face and said, "I told you not to come near this table". Later, they had another heated exchange, when Mr. Earle called her "stupid dyke" and "stupid bitch". He grabbed the sunglasses from her head, snapped them in half and threw them onto the floor.

Six months later, Mr. Earle posted a YouTube video in which he made false statements about Ms. Pardy’s behaviour at the restaurant.

Vulnerability:  Ms. Pardy was vulnerable because of an anxiety disorder. Mr. Earle attacked her dignity and identity as a woman and a lesbian.

Effect:  Mr. Earle's conduct had serious effects on Ms. Pardy. Her physical reaction included ringing in her ears, shaking, sweating and a panic attack on the night of the event. After, she felt humiliated and afraid to leave her home. Over the next months, she still had panic attacks, became less social, avoided the area, and isolated herself. The YouTube video made the effects on Ms. Purdy worse and made them last longer. She had trouble sleeping and stopped participating in activities that she once enjoyed. She improved over time but was still having flashbacks and anxiety at the time of the hearing. An expert report confirmed that the conduct aggravated Ms. Pardy's pre-existing anxiety disorder and caused post traumatic stress disorder.

Note: This decision was upheld by the BC Supreme Court in Ismail v. British Columbia (Human Rights Tribunal), 2013 BCSC 1079.

Ratzlaff v. Marpaul Construction and another, 2010 BCHRT 13 ($25,000)

Area:                Employment              
Grounds:          Sex
Discrimination: Sexual harassment causing job loss
Wage loss:       $22,000

The discrimination: Ms. Ratzlaff was the only woman on a heavy equipment crew. The owner of the company made sexual comments to her, like telling her she was beautiful and he was lonely, and that he knew what she could do for him. He grabbed her hand. He told her “he’d love to screw her until she could not walk” and that he enjoyed sex with younger women. On a business trip, the owner forced his way into her hotel room and grabbed her throat. He kissed her aggressively, grabbed her breasts and tried to get his hands into her vagina. He tried to rape her but Ms. Ratzlaff got him out of her room. Ms. Ratzlaff quit her job.

Vulnerability:  There was a big age difference between Ms. Ratzlaff and the owner.

Ms. Ratzlaff was extremely vulnerable because her work was away from home and away from her support networks for long periods of time.  She was the only woman on the crew. She stayed in a motel that her employer paid for.  She had limited ability to avoid the owner. This was her first job as a heavy equipment operator. She wanted it to be a success. The sudden end to her employment caused her to doubt her abilities.

Finally, Ms. Ratzlaff was vulnerable because she wanted to work and her family needed the income. The owner was in a position of authority over her. She needed his approval to keep her job and to get training and references.

Effect:  After she quit, Ms. Ratzlaff was devastated, scared, and traumatized. She wondered how she could have handled it differently to keep the job that was so important to her. She had trained for three years to be qualified for the job.  Her confidence in herself and in her ability to pursue her chosen career was shattered. She could not go back to the same work. Her family was affected. She sought  assistance from her family doctor, Victim’s Services, and Rape Relief. 

PN v. FR and another (No. 2), 2015 BCHRT 60 ($50,000)

Area:                Employment and retaliation  
Grounds:          Race, colour, place of origin, sex, family status, age, ancestry (young single mother from the Philippines)
Discrimination: Sexual harassment and exploitation causing job loss; Retaliation
Wage loss:       $5,866.89

The discrimination:   PN was a young Filipina nanny. Her employers exploited her. They treated her like a slave. She could not do anything without their permission. One employer repeatedly sexually assaulted her. The other humiliated and degraded her. She called PN “garbage”, “stupid” and “evil”. PN was isolated, underfed and treated like she was sub-human. She escaped after six weeks. She had no resources and no ability to work in Canada. After she left, her employer tried to have others tell her she should not cause trouble and tried to have her deported.

The retaliation:  After PN left, her employer threatened to take action against her for breach of contract and defamation.

Vulnerability:  PN was acutely vulnerable. She was a young mother from the Philippines. She needed the job to take care of her own children. She had no supports in Canada. This resulted in a situation where it was possible for her employer to take unfair advantage of her. The discrimination had its roots in stereotyping and prejudice regarding Filipino workers.

Effect:  The impact was severe and long-lasting.  PN’s counsellor testified that she showed symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. She had nightmares and flashbacks. She had to flee with nothing. She could not work and could not get government benefits. She had to rely on the generosity of strangers to survive. Her situation was untenable.