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$99,000 Award Ordered After BC Store Owner Offers Employee Cash For Sex

An employer offered an employee cash for sex.  She declined.  The employer subsequently fired her.  The complainant initiated a Human Rights action where the Tribunal found improper sexual harrassment took place and ordered nearly $99,000 in total damages.

In the recent case (Ms. K v. Deep Creek Store and another, 2021 BCHRT 158) the Tribunal made the following broad findings of fact:

In this case Ms. K was 21 years old when Mr. Joung hired her to work for him at his
convenience store. As Ms. K’s much older, male boss, Mr. Joung misused his power to sexually
harass Ms. K. When Ms. K attempted to resist this sexual harassment, Mr. Joung made matters
far worse by creating a hostile work environment, and then firing Ms. K. After Ms. K filed a
human rights complaint related to this treatment, Mr. Joung set out to harass and intimidate
her by trespassing at her home in the middle of the night.

The Tribunal found the following legal wrongs were proven:

a. Mr. Joung discriminated against Ms. K when he sexually harassed her. This is
discrimination in violation of s. 13.
b. Mr. Joung discriminated against Ms. K. when he punished her for not accepting
his sexual harassment, and terminated her employment. This is sex
discrimination in violation of s. 13.
c. Mr. Joung retaliated against Ms. K when he trespassed at Ms. K.’s residence to
further intimate and penalize her for filing a sex discrimination complaint against
him and his Store. This is a violation of s. 43.
d. Both Mr. Joung and the Store, as the Respondents, are liable for these Code
violations: Code, s. 44(2).

Damages for wage loss of nearly $54,000 were assessed.  Additionally, in assessing damages for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect at $35,000 and a further $10,000 for the employers retaliation the following reasons were provided:

Recent cases involving discriminatory harassment and/or the termination of a person’s
employment have led to injury to dignity awards in the range of $15,000 to $40,000: see e.g.
Nelson, Benton, Loiselle, Sales Associate and Araniva. In this case, I have considered that the
discrimination includes sexual harassment, and termination of employment. This conduct was
egregious because of Mr. Joung’s misuse of his power as Ms. K’s older, male boss. He made the
sexual harassment worse by poisoning Ms. K’s workplace, and making false allegations about
her work performance as a pretext to fire her. This took place over three months, and I have
found that this conduct had a serious impact on Ms. K. Such conduct and impact warrants a
relatively high award.

Taking into account all these factors, I award Ms. K $35,000 as damages for injury to her
dignity, feelings, and self‐respect as a result of the sexual harassment she experienced,
including termination of her employment.

Recent cases involving retaliation have been in range of $5000‐$10,000: see e.g.
Customer v. The Restaurant and others, 2021 BCHRT 116; and Morriss v. Ruth and Naomi’s
Mission, 2021 BCHRT 19. In this case, I have found that the retaliation was egregious on its own.
Mr. Joung’s trespass at Ms. K’s residence took place several times over three months. It
affected Mr. K’s sleep, her appetite, and her sense of comfort, safety and security in her own
home, both short‐term and long term. Taking into account the factors I have set out above, I
find that an award of $10,000, related to the retaliation is warranted.

In view of all of the above specific circumstances, I find that a global order of $45,000, as
compensation for injury to Ms. K’s dignity, feelings and self‐respect, related to all of Mr. Joung’s
conduct, is warranted

bc injury law, Human Rights Claims, Sexual Harassment