Tracey Wilson and Harriette Cunningham are two wonderful trans girls. Both are 10. They explain their situation in a great news story. Check it out...
What do you think?Should the comedian at Zesty's Restaurant be permitted to harangue a lesbian in the audience by directing homophobic and sexist comments at her?
Is that "freedom of expression" for the comedian, or "freedom from harassment" for the audience member?
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that the comedian, Earle, had violated the Human Rights Code when he included homophobic and sexist zingers in his role as the MC of an open-mic night at Zesty's Restaurant on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. That decision was recently upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court. Earle and Zesty's were ordered to pay damage totalling $22,500.
The court held that, while Earle's freedom of expression was infringed, the infringement to protect against harassment on the basis of sex and sexual orientation was legally justifiable.
The case has been a controversial one with many commentators - including for example the queer magazine Xtra - taking the position that the complainants should get a life and find something more important to complain about.
What do you think?
This site, though American, has many useful workplace resources for trans people:
BC's highest court has decided that sexual harassment IS discrimination on the basis of sex.
This is earthshaking news (didn't we always think this?) only because the court below had held that a tenant could not claim sex discrimination "merely" because her landlord had given her unwanted gifts, made inappropriate comments to her, put his hands on her buttocks, and once made a derogatory comment about a male visitor.
Happily the BC Court of Appeal says that a tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of her home in the same way that a worker is entitled to a work environment free of harassment; and that this does not include harassment by the landlord. The landlord in the case will now have to pay the $100000 awarded by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The Court also said that iIt was open to the Tribunal to infer that the respondent sexually harassed the appellant because she was a woman, without any evidence of how the respondent treated male tenants.
Friedmann v. MacGarvie,  B.C.J. No. 2314
Sheila Gilhooly has published a fabulous new book, "Mistaken Identity" , stories about her life being (mis)taken for a man. Though cisgendered Sheila is read as male about 70% of the time.
The stories are chilling, hilarious, triumphant.
There will be a launch at Little Sisters - we'll keep you posted. And the book is available for preview - go to Sheila's website
http://sheilagilhooly.wordpress.com, and click at the bottom of the page.
Full disclosure: I am Sheila's partner and wrote the afterword.
Lombardi's life at Midas Auto Services Experts was hell for Paul Lombardi, a gay man employed as a Service Advisor, after he was transferred to the Oshawa store in July 2008. He was taunted and harassed, including through text messages. Finally he blew up. Lombardi was fired on October 31, 2009, allegedly because he had got into a physical fight with a technician on the job. He filed a human rights complaint.
The Tribunal found that the conduct in the workplace included:
- harassment on the grounds of disability and sex, largely through text messages and remarks
- that the harassment and ongoing depression that resulted were partly responsible for the applicant’s involvement in the fight that led to his termination
The Tribunal held that the employer knew of the harassment, but had done nothing to deal with the situation.
The Tribunal awarded Lombardi $20,000 in general damages for pain and suffering, AND compensation for his salary, benefits and vacation pay from October 31, 2009, to August 31, 2010.
The lesson for employees: you should tell your supervisor if you are being harassed. The employer has a duty to investigate the situation and deal with the harasser (and NOT by transferring or demoting you out of the workplace!)
The lesson for employers: harassment between co-workers must be addressed immediately. There must be a zero tolerance policy. And if the employer finds out that one employee is harassing another, the employer must deal with the harasser, not transfer the harassee - otherwise, the harassee is being made to pay for the harassment.
(Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Decision: Lombardi v Walton Enterprises (c.o.b. Midas Auto Services Experts)
In a BC Human Rights Tribunal case, Guiget v NRI  B.C.H.R.T.D. No. 191, the employer requested that the tribunal dismiss the case because it could not succeed.The complainant, Ms Guiget, said that her coworkers called her "fucking dyke", and though she complained to her supervisor several times, nothing was done.
The tribunal refused to dismiss the complaint, which will now go to a hearing.
Employers ARE responsible for the conduct of their staff, and have a positive duty to maintain a harassment free environment. If you are being harassed at work, do the following
- keep a daily log of everything that happens, and your response. Be detailed; you may need this years later
- tell your supervisor or HR
- send your supervisor or HR an email "confirming the conversation" - this is so they cannot later deny that you told them about the problem. In the email, include what you said and what they said.