House cleaner was sexually assaulted by employer, human rights tribunal rules
A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing room is shown in this file image from March 29, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
VANCOUVER -- Warning: this story contains descriptions of sexual assault.
The BC Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a man to pay his former house cleaner just over $44,000 in damages for sexually harassing and assaulting her while she worked for him.
According to the June 26 decision, the woman, who the tribunal refers to as M.P., began working for the man, J.S., in 2011. At that time her employer, who the tribunal refers to as J.S., was still married. His wife died in 2013.
At first, J.S. and M.P. had a warm and friendly relationship, according to the tribunal’s decision. She referred to him and his wife as Uncle and Auntie, and after J.S.’s wife died, M.P. and her husband included J.S. on some family outings.
But as early as 2012, according to M.P.’s testimony to the tribunal, J.S. would touch her shoulder or buttocks from time to time. The contact escalated over the years, to the point where J.S. would attempt to touch M.P.’s breasts and genitals and remove her clothing, and would repeatedly attempted to pull her down on his bed.
While M.P. attempted to stop working for him around 2015 or 2016, she and her husband testified that J.S. came to their home to ask why she had stopped coming to his house to clean.
M.P. testified that J.S. had threatened to tell her husband about what was going on and “break her family up,” so she returned to work.
M.P. testified J.S.’s unwanted sexual touching and coercion escalated in 2017, until an incident on Oct. 27, 2017 when she said he pulled her down on the bed, touched her breasts and her genitals and attempted to have intercourse with her.
For his part, J.S. testified that the sexual relationship had been consensual and that he had paid M.P. money after the encounters.
However, tribunal member Emily Ohler said that on the whole, she found the testimony of M.P. and her husband more credible than J.S.’s account. Ohler found that M.S. had been discriminated against on the basis of sex.
Ohler ordered J.S. to pay M.P. $40,000 for “injury to dignity, feelings and self‐respect,” as well as $4,300 for wages lost as a result of the discrimination. Ohler also ordered J.S. to pay a total of $156 to cover medication and tribunal hearing expenses.