Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CD of erotic photos fuelled human rights complaint

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He lied when he said his female boss had unwanted sex with him. He lied when he said he didn't break a window at the oil-change outlet at which they worked. He admitted he took drugs during working hours.

But a provincially appointed adjudicator hearing a Manitoba Human Rights Commission complaint said on Friday he still believed the man when he said he was sexually harassed by his older female boss after he wanted their brief sexual relationship to end.

Adjudicator Lawrence Pinsky said in a 68-page decision the 41-year-old woman, an assistant manager at a Winnipeg oil-change outlet, sexually harassed the 21-year-old man by giving him CDs with erotic photographs of her so he could "think about it some more" shortly after he told her they could no longer be together after having sex twice.

"He had indicated he no longer wished to be involved in such activities and her related comments constitute sexual harassment," Pinsky said.

The adjudicator awarded the man $3,500 in damages for injury to his "dignity, feelings or self-respect," but the man was then ordered to pay back the money to help pay for costs of the hearing because of all the "untruthful statements" the man made in his complaint and at the hearing.

As well, because the adjudicator found the company "did not take reasonable steps to deal with the problem," he ordered the harasser, as well as all the company's managers, assistant managers and executives, to go to an educational seminar about workplace harassment within three months of the decision and to come up with a written policy on sexual harassment approved by the MHRC.

MHRC executive director Azim Jiwa admitted during an interview he questioned the adjudicator's decision to award damages to the man, but then take them away.

"We find it perplexing," Jiwa said.

"The costs were for the extraneous portion of the complaint. The complaint was sexual harassment and he found there was sexual harassment."

Jiwa said he is pleased the adjudicator upheld the complaint, but he hopes the result doesn't deter others from making human rights complaints.

"No matter what terrible experiences people have gone through in the past, we want them to come forward if their human rights have been violated."

The adjudicator was told the man, who had prior addiction problems, began working at a lube shop in July 2009 and worked there until he was let go in November 2009.

The man said within a month of starting to work there, the manager who hired him began making unwelcome comments to him.

The man, who at first complained the woman had unwanted sex with him, but changed his story during the hearing that it was consensual, told the adjudicator after he told her he wanted to end the relationship she kept trying to change his mind, even giving him a CD with explicit photos of her.

The man said the harassment escalated to the point it got where he began not going to work. He said he complained to the woman's superiors, but they did nothing and he was ultimately let go.

The woman testified she gave the man the CD simply so it wouldn't be stolen at work and she said it was the man who was pursuing a relationship with her.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2014 A13

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