In a recent decision, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled that a part-time waitress, whose job entailed selling drinks from a promotional tub near the employer’s entrance, had been the victim of sexual discrimination by her employer. The issue arose when the employee was scheduled to work a special event involving a beach theme, and was told that if she refused to wear a bikini top she would be replaced for the shift.
The employee’s regular shifts were four hours on Friday and five hours on Saturday, for which she earned a wage of $11.87 per hour. The main source of her income, however, were tips which amounted to approximately $75 on Fridays and $125 on Saturdays. When the employee challenged the bikini requirement, the employer responded by reducing the employee’s hours and by reassigning her to a significantly less lucrative position. The employee was also subjected to negative comments and a generally inhospitable work environment.
The Tribunal Member found that the employer had discriminated against the employee on the basis of sex and retaliated against her when she failed to conform to a discriminatory condition of employment. Consequently, the employer was ordered to pay the employee $2,917.97 in lost wages and tips. The Tribunal also found that the employer’s conduct following the initial incident was deliberate, was intended to humiliate the employee, and had a negative psychological impact on her. As a result, the employer was ordered to pay the employee an additional $3,000.00 for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect.
Mottu v. McLeod et al., 2004 BCHRT 76, August 9, 2004 (Junker).