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Queen's University
 

Remedial Action leads to Retaliation...

Bottom Line

Employer must take swift action to respond to racial harassment; and it must also ensure that the complainant is protected against retaliation.

Case

Workplace Harassment

In Coward v Tower Chrysler Ltd., A racialized employee was being harassed by the senior salesperson in a car dealership. He went to his manager to complain.

Employer Response

After receiving the complaint of racial harassment, the employer ‘talked’ about it to the alleged harasser, who retaliated by threatening the complainant.  The employer told both employees to settle down, thus imparting partial responsibility for the harassment on the complainat.  After a repetition of harassing behavior, the alleged harasser was sent home for the last hour of the day. When the complainant insisted on being provided with a safe working environment in which to work, the manager warned him of the employment consequences of not working out his own problems, claiming that no one in this business will hire someone who can't handle his own problems.   The complainant was later put on probation for poor performance and eventually he resigned.

Human Rights Panel's Response

The Human Rights Panel found the employer responsible for failing to provide a quick and effective response and awarded $5000 in damages: “An employer has an obligation to “take prompt and effectual action…to alleviate…the stress arising within the work environment… when it knows or should know of employees’ conduct… amounting to racial harassment.”  This includes taking actions to prevent or address retaliation.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000