News Release: The Manitoba Human Rights Commission
April 26, 2013
For immediate release
Human Rights Adjudicator hands down highest award in Manitoba history
Human Rights Adjudicator Robert Dawson has found that a customer sexually harassed a young woman, and her employer did not take reasonable steps to stop the harassment. The woman was awarded $7,750.00 for damages to her dignity, feelings and self respect. It is the highest damage award in the history of Manitoba Human Rights adjudications.
"The amount of this award is important as it seems that Manitoba is now catching up to the rest of the country in terms of recognizing the seriousness of discrimination and its impact on individuals," says executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission Joan Braun.
The public hearing, Emily Garland v Scott Tackaberry operating as Grape and Grain, was held on February 7, 8 and 22. Ms Garland was an employee from January 2009 until May 2010 at which time she was fired. She testified that she was constantly harassed by a frequent customer, and that her employer Scott Tackaberry did not take reasonable steps to ensure she felt safe in the workplace.
In his written decision Adjudicator Dawson referred to harassment as a "grievous indignity."
Ms Garland testified that the customer made lewd remarks referring to rape, touched her, and made inappropriate "jokes."
Mr Tackaberry said in his defence that Ms Garland only complained once. After weighing the evidence, however, Adjudicator Dawson found otherwise writing, “I am convinced that Ms Garland is a self-confident and assertive individual and that, as a result, she would not have likely played the role of a silent victim.”
According to Ms Braun, for the first time in Manitoba, the decision clarifies that an employer has a duty to protect employees from sexual harassment by a customer of the establishment.
In addition to paying Ms Garland $7750.00 in damages to her dignity, feelings and self respect, Mr. Tackaberry was also ordered to complete a workshop on harassment in the workplace within one year and provide every new and future employee the business policy on harassment in the workplace.
The eleven page decision can be found on the Commission’s website www.manitobahumanrights.ca
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Manitoba Human Rights Commission