A former employee of a motel in Destruction Bay has been awarded $5,000 after the Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication found that his boss had violated his rights by repeatedly pulling his pants down.
In a decision dated June 20, the board wrote that it found former Talbot Arm Motel employee Peter Budge had indeed faced sexual harassment at the hands of motel co-owner Charles Eikland, who pulled down Budge’s pants on several occasions from May to September 2014.
Budge originally filed a complaint with the Yukon Human Rights Commission in 2015 over the pantsing incidents and also said that the motel, and by extension, its co-owners Eikland and Suzanne Tremblay, were complicit in the harassment by doing nothing to stop it.
He said that the harassment started after he returned to work following a serious car accident that left him on pain medication and with partial mobility in one of his arms.
Eikland and Tremblay denied the allegations and represented themselves when the complaint was heard before the board in Whitehorse in May.
In its decision, the board, consisting of chair Penelope Gawn and members Karen Keenan and B. Bruce Warnsby, wrote that it found Budge’s testimony largely credible, although it found that he “appeared to have a tendency to exaggerate his allegations to an extent that made them improbable and difficult to believe.”
Although it found that Eikland did pull Budge’s pants on several occasions, the board wrote that Budge’s assertion that the pantsing happened daily strained credibility. Witnesses who testified at the hearing only saw between two to five incidents, the board wrote.
The board also believed Tremblay’s evidence that she was unaware of the pantsing incidents and that she would have put a stop to them if she had known.
While it believed Eikland’s testimony that he found the allegations distressing, it did not believe his assertion that he only tried to pull down Budge’s pants once, if at all. It also believed that based on testimony from other witnesses, Eikland was known for joking around with staff.
“Given these circumstances, it is quite possible that the respondent Eikland did not know or did not fully appreciate that his conduct was unwelcome,” the board wrote. “However, he was not merely a co-worker but was an employer as one of the two owner/managers of the motel. The board finds on a balance of probabilities that Eikland certainly ought to have known that his pulling down or attempting to pull down an employee’s pants was unwelcome.”
The commission had submitted that Budge should be awarded $20,000 while Eikland and Tremblay argued that, if any award should be given, it should be $1,500.
Budge had requested $50,000 and a written apology.
The board ultimately awarded Budge $5,000, with both Eikland and Tremblay liable, and said that it did not have the power to order a written apology.
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