Employer handled harassment complaint properly: Tribunal

Pharmacy suspended and then transferred manager after sexual harassment complaint from employee

A British Columbia employee’s harassment complaint has been dismissed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal because the employer had already dealt with the problem.

Lori McLuckie worked for London Drugs, a pharmacy in South Surrey, B.C. In July 2006, McLuckie claimed the store manager made crude remarks about her sexual preference as well as other sexual comments over a period of two years, including incidents where he also touched her inappropriately, she said.

In July 2008, McLuckie informed the HR department of the manager’s behaviour. She didn’t want to be identified and she also said she didn’t want anyone to lose their job. Though no one followed up with her, McLuckie assumed someone spoke to the manager because the harassment stopped for a while.

However, on Dec. 26, 2008, when McLuckie told the manager she was engaged, he made an offensive comment about her current and former partners. Two other incidents followed in January 2009 and McLuckie complained to the HR department again.

HR told McLuckie to file a written complaint so they could launch a proper investigation and she did so on Feb. 2. Three days later she went on medical leave for what her doctor described as “situational stress related to work environment, specifically unresolved sexual harassment involving manager.”

London Drugs investigated the situation and determined the manager breached its human rights policy. However, it found his misconduct wasn’t serious enough to constitute sexual harassment, though it concluded the working relationship between McLuckie and the manager was beyond repair and recommended they no longer work together.

London Drugs suspended the manager for five days without pay, referred him for harassment training and transferred him to another store.

McLuckie wasn’t satisfied with the report or the information and support available at work and wrote to London Drugs on June 3, 2009. The company considered the matter closed and didn’t respond. After being cleared by her doctor, McLuckie returned to work on June 22 but filed a human rights complaint for discrimination in her employment based on her sex and sexual orientation.

The tribunal found regardless whether it considered the manager’s actions sexual harassment or not, London Drugs took appropriate measures to remedy the misconduct that caused McLuckie to feel discriminated against. It found the company acted promptly by asking her to file a written complaint and launched an investigation shortly thereafter. The manager was transferred and disciplined less than a month after the conclusion of the investigation. It may have seemed like a long time for McLuckie, but this was a reasonable timeframe and the fact she returned to work when medically cleared showed she must have believed her concerns had been addressed, said the tribunal.

“London Drugs took immediate steps once it had received the investigators’ report to deal with (the manager). In light of the steps taken, I conclude that London Drugs took Ms. McLuckie’s concerns seriously and acted accordingly,” said the tribunal.

The tribunal found no reasons to allow McLuckie’s complaint to continue and dismissed it. See McLuckie v. London Drugs, 2009 CarswellBC 3338 (B.C. Human Rights Trib.).

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