The Yukon Human Rights Commission is recommending a former supervisor at Alcan Motor Inn Restaurant & Lodge in Haines Junction pay over $12,000 to two former employees who claim they were sexually harassed during the spring of 2011.
The commission made its recommendation to the Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication Friday. The board, a separate entity from the commission, has one month to issue a decision on the case.
Two girls, who now live in Whitehorse, filed complaints with the human rights commission against their former supervisor, Sid Quenneville, in August 2011 and February 2012. Neither girl can be named because both were minors when they filed their complaints.
The girls worked at the restaurant during May 2011. One was a server. The other was a dishwasher. The Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication held a hearing into the complaints last week.
The way Quenneville looked at them made them both feel uncomfortable, the girls said. “You could just see him checking you out,” testified one of the girls.
He grabbed her by the behind in front of another male co-worker, and that made her feel “degraded,” she alleged. The second girl alleged that Quenneville kicked her twice in the behind. This behaviour was “aggressive,” said Colleen
Harrington, a lawyer for the commission, in closing statements heard Friday.
Both girls stopped working at the restaurant shortly after these incidents. Neither of them spoke to Quenneville about them. But sexual harassment victims do not need to verbally object to show behaviour is unwanted, Harrington told the board.
Quenneville was at least 20 years older than the employees, and should have known his behaviour was unwelcome, she said.
The commission recommends each girl be paid $6,000 for injury to their dignity, self-esteem and feelings. Both had trouble speaking about the events, said Harrington. As young First Nations women working for an older white man in a rural northern community, they were in a vulnerable situation, she said. The commission is also recommending they each be paid a month’s wages. Quenneville’s actions caused them to lose “the only real job available to girls of their age in Haines Junction,” said Harrington.
Quenneville did not appear at last week’s hearing, although he was aware of it. He no longer works at the restaurant. Owner Clinton McCuaig has not seen him for a couple of years, he told the News last week.
The girls have also filed a complaint against the business. That complaint has been settled. Terms of the settlement are confidential, but were considered when making these recommendations, Harrington told the board.
Contact Meagan Gillmore at firstname.lastname@example.org