Human Rights Advisory Services

Human Rights Advisory Services
Human Rights Advisory Services

Red Button Isse: Verbal Complaint

Bottom Line

If an employer receives a verbal complaint of workplace harassment, it has a duty to respond quickly and effectively.

Workplace Harassment

In Gough v C.R. Falkenham Backhoe Services, the complainant was the only black employee working for a construction company.  For five years, he was the target of racist stories, comments and slurs by coworkers. During this time, he was consistently given the worst jobs and denied the opportunity to advance in the company by his supervisor. 

Failure to Respond 

When he went off-site to complain to management, nothing was done. 

Ruling of the Human Rights Board 

When called before a Human Rights Board, the employer claimed that it had been unaware of any racial harassment occurring on the construction site.   The Board found that the employer was aware of workplace harassment and should have taken immediate and effective action.  The Board also warned that ignoring a complaint of workplace race harassment (including not investigating) is tantamount to giving consent to race discrimination/harassment . It awarded the employee $8000 in general damages.