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Queen's University
 

Facebook: harassment on the basis of race, ancestry, place or origin, citizenship and ethnic origin. 

Oscar Perez-Morono and Danielle Kulcyycki 2013 HTRO 1074

Full Case

Facts

This case is about an employee of a golf resort who posted comments about a co-worker on her facebook page.

The complaint had intervened in an argument between the respondent and the complainant’s partner at work. As a result of this intervention, the respondent was disciplined by the employer. On her facebook page she commented that she had been “written up” because of the complainant, to whom she referred using a derogatory term (dirty) and a reference to his ethnicity (Mexican).  She made other derogatory remarks about the complainant at work.  The complainant’s son was asked, at school, whether the post referred to his father.

The complainant was deeply affected by the comments on facebook and at work.  He claimed that they were  ”humiliating and damaging to his character, work and personal life, and stated that they created a negative emotional, social, mental and possibly financial effect on him” (3). 

The respondent did not respond to the Tribunal’s request for a response and the Tribunal deemed that the respondent had therefore “accepted the applicant’s allegations”.

Issue

Does the facebook comment amount to harassment?

Decision

Yes

Reasons

The Tribunal referred to Taylor-Baptiste v OPSEU, 2012, HRTO 1392 in which the tribunal determined that “the Code may apply to workplace-related postings on the internet”.  In the Perez-Morono case, the Tribunal concurred and found that the respondent’s comments on facebook amounted to harassment on the basis of race, ancestry, place or origin, citizenship and ethnic origin.  “The comments clearly were vexatious and related to an incident that occurred in the workplace. The respondent knew or ought reasonably to have known her comments were unwelcome to the applicant. “ (4)

Remedy

The complainant wanted the respondent to be terminated.  The Tribunal did not have the power to terminate an employee, especially in this case where the employer was not included as a respondent. The respondent was required to take the Human Rights Commission’s 101 online training. The Tribunal also determined that it would “provide a copy of this decision to the employer who may wish to consider whether human rights training might be of benefit for all its employees. (5)

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000