Alberta golf course superintendent in the rough after harassing worker

Treatment of subordinate worsened after woman refused his romantic advances
By Jeffrey Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/30/2017
Golf Course
The Willow Park Golf Course in Calgary. Credit: Google Street View

Unrequited love is a difficult thing to face, but one Alberta golf course superintendent chose a bad path when he continued to harass a subordinate employee after she rejected his advances. As a result, his employer was justified in firing him, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled.

Ralph Watkins, 67, was the golf course superintendent at Willow Park Golf Course in Calgary. He was hired in 1999 with a staff of about seven full-time and 30 seasonal workers reporting to him.

In the spring of 2011, Watkins developed romantic feelings for a full-time employee who reported to him, Andrea Li. She had been hired in 2005 as a seasonal employee and became a year-round, full-time employee in 2007. They took trips together with his grandchildren and Li’s young daughter, and Watkins invited Li on a trip to Winnipeg to play a golf course there. At the time, he thought Li felt the same way about him, though she was 32 years younger.