One racial slur can constitute harassment

Ontario arbitrator says a single incident can be enough to violate worker’s rights under the Human Rights Code
By Natasha Savoline
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/26/2006

An Ontario arbitrator has ruled that a single unwelcome comment constituted harassment under the province’s Human Rights Code.

A concrete mixer of Italian descent, employed by Prestressed Systems Inc., alleged his rights under the code were violated when his supervisor directed a racial slur towards him.

The grievance arose after the worker failed to hear an order communicated over a two-way radio placed by his supervisor. When he told the supervisor he had not heard the order, the supervisor responded with profanity, called him an immigrant and said “You want me to come up there and teach you how to speak English?” The supervisor insisted he did not intend to offend the worker and was “just kidding.”