A small business in Quebec has been ordered to pay $150,000 to some employees for telling them to clean up after themselves. Mr. Stephen Rapps hired a number of temporary workers back in 2006 to help him out during the busy season. What is hard to understand is how incredibly thin-skinned these complainants are. To be told off for being unhygienic, for creating a disgusting environment in which their full-time coworkers had to operate, is not the end of the world.
Unfortunately, they left a monstrous mess in the kitchen and daily left the bathrooms in unsanitary conditions. So he called his entire staff together, a staff that was quite ethnically diverse, and chastised them for the mess. The temp workers, all recent Chinese immigrants, didn’t like this too much and filed a complaint. For this staff meeting, the Quebec Human Rights Commission ordered the company to pay $150,000.00 for moral and punitive damages to those who had dirtied his kitchen and bathrooms.
Man up, clean up, and get back to work!
What is particularly alarming in this decision is that the punitive award was increased because the company dared to “minimize the nature of the discriminatory comments”. How dare they defend themselves! And what is all the more galling is the fact that the complainants’ were told off at that meeting through the use of an interpreter who was having a hard time making the translations. Sometimes things are lost in translation… or embellished. So the tribunal penalizes the company for trying to explain their side of the story, and accepts as fact the story of the complainants as they understood it through the interpreter, despite the fact that other English speaking employees at the meeting testified that the offensive phrases alleged were never said.
This decision now stands as proof that an owner’s property rights can be trumped by hurt feelings. You can read the decision for yourself here.