Workplace Culture That Includes Racism Is Very Costly for Employer

Author:Yosie Saint-Cyr
Date:June 13, 2019

Recently, a Nova Scotia Human Rights Board of Inquiry awarded a record $593,417 in damages, including $105,650 for injury to dignity and $433,077 for wage loss, to a former Halifax transit worker employed as a mechanic who suffered racial harassment and discrimination at work.

In a previous ruling released in March 2018, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry chair Lynn Connors found widespread racial discrimination and a poisoned work environment at Halifax Transit’s garage. The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) was found vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.

Connors stated,

“I find based on the facts and the case law that HRM was liable for the actions of its employees and did not do enough to curb their inappropriate behaviour.”

During the hearing, it was revealed that the mechanic filed his complaint with the Human Rights Commission nearly 12 years ago, in July 2006. He was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder linked to a “hostile working environment.” He was seeking more than $1.4 million through $367,000 in damages and $1.053 million in lost earnings and pension. After the hearing to consider damages in the case, the inquiry board chairwoman Lynn Connors reserved her decision to assess damages. Connors retained jurisdiction to reconvene on another hearing date (which occurred in June 2018) to receive further oral and written submissions from the parties in regards to damages.

The award for damages came down on May 15, 2019.

What happened leading up to the complaint and award?

The complainant is white, but his wife is African Nova Scotian. Black and Indigenous co-workers also suffered under the actions of former bus mechanic Arthur Maddox, who no longer works for the transit service. Connors stated that the complainant had been frightened and terrorized. This is what happened:

Allegations included a message scrawled on the men’s bathroom wall that said “all minorities not welcome; show you care, burn a cross.” It was signed by “a member of the Baby Hitler.”

Maddox is also quoted as allegedly saying “racism should be a law that you can shoot somebody and get away with it.”

The complainant arrived at a social function with his African Nova Scotian wife to hear Maddox allegedly say loudly: “We don’t want those kind of people here.”

Evans said his client also feared for his physical safety.

He said Maddox tried to hit the complainant with a bus, and during another incident, he was nearly hit in...

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