Seven former employees have won a human rights complaint against Kin Wa Chan, the owner of the Spruce Hill Resort and Spa Ltd., in 108 Mile Ranch in the Cariboo region of British Columbia.
All are Caucasian, alleging that they were terminated or forced to leave their employment because they were not Chinese. They all quit or were dismissed within days of each other in August 2016.
The complainants filed the complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, and included Melonie Eva, Clare Fast, Kathy Stocks, Elisha Schaff, Manuela Boos, Norbert Boos, Jessica Allison and Elika Ward.
Eva also filed a sexual harassment-related complaint.
The ruling states that “with the exception of Ms. Ward, the complainants have established their case.”
The Tribunal awarded over $173,000 to the successful complainants.
Race and colour
Chan was found to have said words to the effect, “Chinese workers are better and cheaper than white workers” and “Chinese workers do not have to be paid holiday pay or overtime,” Tribunal Chair Diana Juricevic writes in the 73-page Reason For Decision document.
Eva testified that she and Chan had frequent arguments about “too many white people” working at the resort. Schaff testified she overheard some of these arguments and corroborated Eva’s evidence in that regard.
In a diary entry, Eva wrote that Chan wanted “white people gone.”
In one entry Eva noted, “He also says he wants to employ Chinese people they don’t ask for overtime they work on salary and work many many hours no overtime.” An entry that was in harmony with oral evidence by Fast and Stock as well as Eva’s own oral evidence.
Juricevic found it an undisputed fact that Stocks was replaced by a Chinese student.
The complaint also involved a sexual harassment complaint by Eva against Chan.
Juricevic found that “on balance Mr. Chan’s conduct rises to the level of sexual harassment prohibited by the Code,” referring to an incident on a business trip in China. Eva assumed she would be staying in her own hotel room. Chan planned for them to share a room. Chan testified that it was for the purpose for saving money while Eva thought he wanted sexual favours.
“Notwithstanding his denial, or any purported misunderstanding, I find that it is more probable than not that Mr. Chan wanted to share a hotel room with Ms. Eva for sexual purposes,” according to Juricevic, noting that Chan wanting to save money didn’t conform to his spending during the trip.
“In any event, and regardless of Mr. Chan’s intentions, Ms. Eva found his conduct sexual and unwelcome. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Chan had any reasonable basis to believe that Ms. Eva might be interested in his advances. Yet, he walked her through a market that sold sex toys and booked a hotel room with a bathroom with only a glass divide. Mr. Chan acknowledged not advising Ms. Eva in advance that he expected them to share a room. His evidence was that such information was “mere details”. His explanation was simply incredible. No reasonable person could attribute an employer’s decision to book one hotel room when travelling with an employee to be a misunderstanding or “mere details” in these circumstances.”
Eva provided the following statement after the Free Press reached out:
We as the complaints are survivors of decimation who under all the circumstances in spite of the discrimination, financial hardship emotional turmoil feel relief.
Tears of joy and emotional exhaustion flowed we got the phone calls and emails regarding the determination on Wednesday last week.
Victory is always possible when you refuse to give up and stop fighting.
And this is an amazing group of people who never gave up. I don’t think the reality has set in yet, we are still overwhelmed by the news.
Right now we all are grateful for the support form our families and friends throughout this long process.
We feel that this is not just a victory for us, but for our community, for anyone who has suffered the indignity of being discriminated against.
Chan provided the following statement after the Free Press reached out:
We are aware of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling. We are extremely disappointed in the judgement, and will be appealing this decision. Spruce Hill Resort and Spa prides itself on being nondiscriminatory, and we will continue to operate in a professional manner in the best interests of our staff and clientele. We are a business that does not hire people based on ethnicity or sexual orientation. We pride ourselves in being a place of work that is multicultural, and one of the pillars of this great community. Spruce Hill Resort and Spa is a place where everyone of every ethnicity, from staff to patrons, can gather and enjoy the finer experiences of the Cariboo!
Melonie Eva – entitled to $24,481 in wage loss and $18,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect
Kathy Stocks – entitled to $5,151.33 in wage loss and $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect
Clare Fast – entitled to $47,561.28 in wage loss and $10,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect
Norbert Boos – entitles to $20,715.07 in wage loss and $4,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect
Elisha Schaff – entitled to $6,129.28 in wage loss and $3,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect
Jessica Allison – entitled to $9,102.10 in wage loss and $3,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect
Manuela Boos – entitled to $7,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect