Judge upholds tribunal decision that found former resort employees were fired because they were white

Terminated due to race

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has upheld a human rights tribunal decision that said seven former employees of a 108 Mile House resort suffered discrimination as they were terminated or forced to leave because they were not Chinese.

Kin Wa Chan, owner of Spruce Hill Resort and Spa, asked for a judicial review of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision. The tribunal had ordered Chan to provide financial compensation to former staffers after it found their discrimination complaint was justified.

B.C Supreme Court Justice Dennis Hori reviewed Chan’s application and published his judgement on the matter on Dec. 23.

“Ultimately, the tribunal accepted that race was a factor in the termination of the complainants’ employment and, as I heard earlier in these reasons, that finding is supported by the evidence and is not unreasonable,” Hori said in his judgement.

According to court documents, the tribunal heard from seven employees who argued that Spruce Hill forced them to leave because they were white.

Staff reported to the tribunal that Chan mentioned a number of times that he wanted to hire Chinese employees because he believed they would work hard and not ask for overtime pay or pay for statutory holidays, the court judgement said.

According to documents, the tribunal heard Chan made complaints to former staff about “too many white people” working at the resort, and recruited employees by posting on a Chinese language job website.

In his judgement, Hori said Chan requested the tribunal decision to be reviewed, alleging the former employees “concocted their human rights complaint to obtain compensation which they would not receive under labour and employment standards legislation.”

However, Hori said after reviewing Chan’s argument, he is upholding the tribunal’s decision that the former staffers’ testimonies are credible.

Hori said one staffer, Clare Fast, was a 20-year employee in a position where she managed people, and the compensation she could pursue in a wrongful dismissal action would be more significant than the compensation she received as a result of the tribunal complaint, making it unlikely she was motivated to lie for financial gain.

“I find no error in the tribunal’s findings on the credibility of Ms. Fast,” Hori wrote.

One of the former staffers told the tribunal about an incident that happened on a business trip to Hong Kong with Chan. The staff member, Melonie Eva, said she was subject to sexual harassment when the two of them walked through a market selling sex toys, after which she found Chan had only booked one hotel room for the two of them.

According to the judgement, Chan argued that the finding of sexual harassment was made in error, because Eva at first told the tribunal the market sold mainly sex toys, but under cross-examination, said less than 20 per cent of the market sold sex toys.

Hori said the number of sex toys in the market “has nothing to do with” the tribunal’s decision.

“The basis for the finding is that Mr. Chan expected Ms. Eva to share a hotel room with him during their business trip to Hong Kong. The Tribunal’s decision on discrimination based on sex does not turn on the prevalence of sex toys in the market,” Hori wrote.

According to court documents, Chan also argued that there were financial reasons to terminate the employees, an argument which was dismissed by the tribunal.

The judgement said the tribunal held the former employees needed to only prove their race was a factor in their termination.

“Even if there were financial reasons for the petitioners’ termination of the complainants’ employment, the petitioners could not avoid a finding of discrimination if race was also a factor in the termination,” Hori wrote.

Hori dismissed the review application from Chan and Spruce Hill Resort.

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