Worker wins damages after colleague says racial slur

Posted
September 19, 2018
Article Source
Law Times

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ordered a man who used a racial slur to pay $1,000 in damages to a colleague who overheard the comment in a workplace lunchroom.

The case involved an applicant, described as a "Black woman with Trinidadian ancestry," who was employed on a casual, part-time basis as a cleaner. 

In November 2014, the tribunal heard the woman was in a lunchroom with about 10 other employees of the same company. The woman overheard another colleague use the n-word, asking another employee "What was your last [n-word] job?"

The woman complained to a supervisor and the company launched an investigation, which substantiated the man's use of the slur. He was suspended for five days without pay.

In January 2018, the HRTO further ordered the employee to pay damages to the woman over injury to her "dignity, feelings and self-respect."

"I am satisfied that the use of the term is inherently discriminatory and must be reasonably expected to be offensive and hurtful to any Black person. Indeed, it would be reasonably expected to be offensive to any person, regardless of race or colour, but especially so for a Black person," said Brian Cook, vice chairman of the tribunal, in a ruling made in January 2018.

Tanya Walker of Walker Law PC in Toronto says she thinks the amount the woman received was "very low," given what she experienced.

"If I were called that name, I don't think $1,000 could justify [it] or make me feel better. I have been called that name before and it makes you feel very anxious and stressed and brings you back to a time that you shouldn't think about when you're working," she says.

Read more: Worker wins damages after colleague says racial slur