Employee said she was promised rides home after co-worker harassed her
This instalment of You Make the Call features a limousine company employee who claimed discrimination based on sex and family status.
Anna Hall was hired on a one-year contract to work in the dispatch office of Aerocar Service, a provider of transportation to airports in the Vancouver area, in April 2009. She worked in an office with access to a reception area and other offices.
On March 20, 2010, Hall was working as a dispatcher when one of Aerocar’s limousine drivers snuck up behind her, grabbed her and kissed her on the side of her neck. Hall immediately called the general manager and reported the incident. Later, she met with the general manager and the fleet manager and they watched security video of the incident. The managers agreed the driver could not be trusted to conduct himself properly and told Hall that he would be fired. They also confirmed with her the next day that the driver was fired.
The day after the incident, Hall met with her boss and she claimed he promised her safe rides home “for a few weeks” in Aerocar vehicles when she was done work. However, when she confirmed with the office manager later, she was told she would not be given rides home.
As it turned out, the driver was not fired, but rather suspended for three weeks with a warning that any other inappropriate conduct would result in immediate termination. The driver was also told to have no contact with Hall. Aerocar claimed it only told Hall that they “might” have to fire the driver. As it was, the driver was never in the office at the same time as Hall after the incident.
Hall filed a human rights complaint claiming discrimination based on family status and sex. The family status complaint was based on Hall’s assertion that Aerocar gave free rides to female family members who worked for the company, at the end of their shifts. She said that since she wasn’t family, the company revoked her boss’ permission to temporarily get a ride home from work.
Hall’s claim of sex discrimination was based on the fact Aerocar did not do enough to ensure a safe working environment by not firing her harasser or do anything to make her feel safe again — including the rides home. Hall claimed this discrimination and the harassment led to her suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Aerocar refuted the claims, arguing that all employees were entitled to a 40 per cent discount on rides but were not permitted to get free rides. The company said it had taken steps to deal with the situation and there was no need for Hall to get free rides home.
You Make the Call
Did Aerocar fail to properly address Hall’s concerns and discriminate against her?
Did Aerocar take appropriate steps to handle the harassment?
If you said Aerocar took appropriate steps to handle the situation, you’re right. Firstly, the tribunal found no real evidence of family status discrimination and Aerocar’s employee discount policy was reasonable and fairly applied across the company. The tribunal also found Aerocar responded to Hall’s complaint promptly and its actions were appropriate. The managers met with Hall the same day, viewed the video and offered her a ride home from work that day. The driver was suspended the same day as well and told to stay away from Hall, said the tribunal.
“Whether (the driver) was immediately fired or suspended on the conditions as set out in Aerocar’s material, I find that Aerocar conducted itself in accordance with the purposes of the (B.C. Human Rights Code),” said the tribunal. “Aerocar promptly informed itself of the facts by looking at the videotape and acted decisively by making it very clear to (the driver) that his conduct was completely unacceptable and that he was either suspended or fired, and in any case, that his job was in jeopardy.”Since Aerocar’s response to Hall’s complaint was deemed prompt and acceptable, the tribunal dismissed the discrimination complaint. See Hall v. Highend Limousines Services Ltd., 2012 CarswellBC 1010 (B.C. Human Rights Trib.).