Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
An employer in Kingsville, Ontario has been ordered to pay $23,500 migrant worker after a human rights tribunal found that the worker had been fired for making a complaint about racial taunts in the workplace.
In a decision delivered on July 23, 2013, David Muir, vice-chair at The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, ordered Double Diamond Acres Limited to pay $5,500 in wages to Adrian Monrose, plus prejudgment interest and $18,000 in damages, for violations under the Human Rights Code. The employer was given four months to develop a comprehensive human-rights and anti-discrimination policy, including a mechanism for complaints, and posted in the workplace. The employer was also required to complete an online human-rights training program.
Monrose was to be employed under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program from January 9, 2009 until September 1, 2009 or until the completion of his work. He was employed by Double Diamond Acres for the 2008 agricultural season and was identified as someone the employer wanted back the following season. But by June 2009, he was terminated and repatriated to his country of St. Lucia.
Monrose says he was terminated after he had complained to company owner Benji Mastronardi about two occasions in which he and his coal-workers are referred to as monkeys by Mastronardi himself and supervisor Jeffrey Carreiro. The employer contended that Juan Rose had be dismissed because he was prone to violence, including one instance in which he allegedly pushed Carreiro with a force sufficient enough to knock them over.
“I find that a factor in the decision to terminate the applicant’s employment was that he complained about the monkey comment,” Muir says, adding that Mastronardi did call Monrose and his co-workers monkeys on May 20, 2013. “I also found that the conclusion that the applicant was prone to violence was baseless.”
In contrast, Muir found that Monrose’s evidence was largely consistent and the worker readily admitted to facts that were not helpful to his case. “In all of the circumstances, the only reasonable conclusion to come to is that the applicant’s termination from employment and consequent repatriation was the respondents direct and only response to his human-rights complaint about the monkey comment.”
In today’s world, it is unfathomable to think that this type of thing goes on as often as it does. To call someone such a derogatory name is something that should’ve been out of our social system over 100 years ago but it still seems to exist today. You cannot preach out hate in an individual but you can continue to keep legislation in place in an attempt to prevent it.
In 2010, the Ontario government created section 32.0.1 and up to and including 32.0.7 to protect workers from violence and harassment in the workplace. Thank goodness that that piece of legislation was in place or we would be sitting here discussing why it wasn’t.
Prejudice has been around for thousands of years and it seems it will continue to go on. Thank goodness for enlightened persons who have raised themselves above this type of hatred and include that enlightenment in current legislation.
We do not need to have people burning crosses or wearing hoods. Racial hatred has to stop and the Ontario government has deemed it necessary to legislated it out of the workplace. Everyone is entitled to safe work environment. That is the law!
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Discrimination’, Violence and Harassment’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.