Human rights board orders compensation for harassment

The Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication has ordered Mark Hureau to compensate Devon Hanson for sexually harassing her.

The Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication has ordered Mark Hureau to compensate Devon Hanson for sexually harassing her.

The board found that harassment at the “most mild end of the spectrum” had occurred in a August 2012 decision.

Hanson was Hureau’s employee at Whitehorse retailer Intersport in March 2010, when the harassment occurred. She was 18 and he was 43 at the time.

Hureau was also her basketball coach, and Hanson described him as her mentor.

The relationship went sour after suggestive text messages and emails were exchanged, leading Hanson to quit her job at Intersport.

“Mr. Hureau’s texts and emails document a failure to recognize that Ms. Hanson was an adolescent with an inherent immaturity in dealing with decisions related to relationships, especially between genders,” states the board’s decision.

In this week’s decision the board ordered Hureau to pay Hanson three months in lost wages and her legal costs.

He must also implement a sexual harassment policy at Intersport, to be approved by the board, within two months.

The board acknowledged that both Hureau and Hanson had suffered negative social consequences as a result of their involvement in the proceedings, and hoped the decision would serve “as a censure and cautionary example to other Yukon community organizations and businesses.”

However, the parties were also allowed to submit a request to the board for compensation or other remedies.

Hanson requested to be paid $15,000 in damages for injury to her self-esteem, dignity and feelings.

The board found that compensation for personal injury was not warranted because the nature of the harassment was mild.

Hureau also asked to be compensated for damages to his reputation, but his request was dismissed.

He argued that Hanson should be required to compensate him because her complaint was based on evidence she knew to be false.

The board found that, while contradictory evidence was presented, it did not find that Hanson based her complaints on untrue facts.

The board’s finding of sexual harassment has been appealed by both parties.

Hureau has asked the Supreme Court of Yukon to cancel the board’s decision and conduct a new hearing. He has also asked that the board pay the costs of the appeal.

In a statement of claim, he argues that the board, among other things, failed to consider contradictory evidence, relied on its own research and didn’t provide an opportunity to challenge or respond to that research.

The human rights commission, which acts independently from the board, has also appealed the board’s original decision.

It argues that the board made a mistake by finding that Hureau, but not Intersport, should be held accountable for the harassment.

The appeal has yet to be heard by the Yukon Supreme Court, and the parties may revise their statements of appeal in light of the board’s new ruling.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com