SHE SAYS, HE SAYS
She said that shortly after she started working for him in his restaurant he started to show interest in her. She said this was evidenced by the fact that he didn’t charge her and her family for appetizers, drinks or cake when they went to the restaurant to celebrate her sister’s birthday. She said his interest in her was further proven by him talking to her family that day and telling them what a good job she was doing. He said he would love to go to St. Catharines where her parents lived.
She said that although they didn’t work the same shift he started coming in earlier and earlier and one day made lunch for her of scallops and steaks. He gave her wine “on the house” twice. She said he gave her his phone number and said that he liked to cook and wanted to have her over for dinner. She neither declined nor accepted.
She said that he told her that someone like her should get herself a sugar daddy. During the August, 2003 blackout he called her to come to the restaurant to pick up her pay. When she got there it was lit with candles and he asked her out for a drink. She declined. He asked her where she was going dressed up in the way that she was dressed.
She said that after that his attitude changed. When the chef pulled on her underwear and she complained to him, he shrugged it off.
He denied that he showed any inappropriate interest in her. He said he gave her and her family free cake and appetizers but not free drinks. The cake had been a free sample from a potential supplier and the appetizers were often given free to people at the restaurant. He didn’t come into work early just to see her. She only worked there a month so she didn’t realize that his work start time was always changing.
He made her a steak and scallop lunch as a taste test for a new recipe along with several other staff. He denied saying that she should get a sugar daddy.
He said he did give her his phone number but only so she could call and advise if she was going to be late for a shift, which she, too often, was.
He said he never invited her to his house for dinner. He always ate at the restaurant. He gave her a couple of glasses of wine but it was as part of a taste testing that he also provided to other employees for a potential new product. He waited outside in his car the night of the blackout to provide her and 3 other employees their pay. He wasn’t inside the restaurant with candles lit. He said he didn’t ask her out or comment on where she was going.
He said she never complained about a chef pulling on her underwear.
She said she started getting migraines about a month after she started there because of all of the stress of this harassment and so she resigned. He said she had already been late twice and when she was late the third time he scheduled a private interview with her as a disciplinary measure. Instead of attending the interview, she quit.
She said that when she went to pick up her final pay after having resigned, he asked her, in fairly crude terms, about her preference for positioning during sexual intercourse.
He said he never said any such thing and that when she came into pick up her last cheque all that happened was that she yelled at him.
It went on and on. At the end of the day this matter ended up before the Human Rights Tribunal for a decision. The Tribunal believed him on some things and her on others. They were both disbelieved on a number of issues. She lied, he lied.
What the Tribunal did find, however, is that he had asked her about her preference for sexual positioning when she came to pick up her last pay cheque. Of course, why the Tribunal chair found her not to be credible on so many issues and rejected her evidence but believed her on this one statement is hard to imagine. How do you say to a complainant, I don’t believe you when you said A, B or C, but I believe D?
At the end of the day, for the one incident that the Tribunal chair did find where he is said to have asked an inappropriate question, an award of $1,000 was made. There is no resemblance here to the million dollar awards one hears about on American television.
After what was probably a three day hearing, the complainant gets all of a $1,000 from the respondent and a public decision with both their names all over it where they have both been found to be lacking in credibility on a number of issues.
You may wonder whether it was worth our tax dollars to pay that Tribunal officer and all the staff that helped arrange that three day hearing just to end up with a $1,000 award. I believe it is worth it.
We maintain ourselves as a civilized society by insuring that everyone gets their day in court. There will always be cases that to an outside observer don’t look like they’re worth it. Human rights, however, works on the theory of a thousand mosquito bites. Even if not all of the bites are big ones, if you get bit often enough, you start to take preventative measures.
As published in the Hamilton Spectator, July 5, 2008