Would-be carnie gets $11k: fired for being ‘too heavy’

Travelled from Sask. to B.C. on promise of job

A carnival-ride operator who thought that a new hire was “too big and too heavy” to run the rides unlawfully discriminated against the man. That is what a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal member, Barbara Humphreys, has held recently in awarding Dion Rogal of Regina, Sask., $11,000 in compensation.

Rogal was working as a security guard in Regina when he saw a help-wanted ad for carnival work in the Vancouver area. He telephoned Grace Dalgliesh, who told him that she was with West Coast Amusements and that the job comprised setting up and taking down rides, as well as dealing with the public. The pay was $1,400 with room and board.

Rogal told Dalgliesh that he was 6’1” and 350 pounds, and she replied that this was not a problem. Rogal then advised Dalgliesh that he would give his current employer two weeks’ notice.

When Rogal arrived in Vancouver, Grace Dalgliesh picked him up at the bus terminal and introduced him to her husband Bert, who actually managed the rides. Bert gave Rogal a card which described him as working in public relations for West Coast Amusements. Unbeknownst to Rogal at the time, Bert Dalgliesh was an independent contractor for West Coast, and his only official job was running his own rides at their carnivals.

The next day, Bert told Rogal he was “too big and too heavy” for the carnival’s “fast-paced lifestyle.” He gave Rogal $179 to take the bus back to Regina.

Arbitrator Humphreys has decided that Dalgliesh discriminated against Rogal because of a perceived disability. There was no evidence, she notes, to show that being a certain size was a bona fide occupational requirement, or that Dalgliesh could not have accommodated Rogal.

West Coast Amusements not liable

As Dalgliesh did not actually work as West Coast’s agent — West Coast didn’t mind that he passed out cards describing himself as an employee in their public relations department, but they had done nothing to hold him out as representing them — Humphreys did not hold it liable.

Against Bert Dalgliesh alone, she has awarded Rogal $3,500 to compensate injury to his dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Rogal testified that, in firing him, Dalgliesh had “ripped his heart out” and left him with “below zero” confidence, such that he could not work for about six weeks thereafter. At the time of the hearing, he was working in a gas station for $5.50.

Humphreys has also awarded Rogal the difference between his gas-station salary and what he would have earned for three months with Dalgliesh, plus his expenses of attending the hearing, including lost wages.

For more information:

Rogal v. Dalgliesh, 2000 B.C.H.R.T. 22, Mar. 29/00.

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