Ontario inn checks out before investigating harassment complaint

Dismissal of teenaged housekeeper following complaint 
without investigating was a reprisal: Arbitrator
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 07/16/2019
Owner was angry
credit: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

An Ontario inn wrongfully dismissed a teenaged housekeeper after she complained of harassment from her supervisor's sister, an arbitrator has ruled.

The now-19-year-old worker was a part-time housekeeper at the Cooper River Inn, a hotel and conference centre in Fort Frances, Ont. When she started working for the inn on Oct. 8, 2016, she was subject to a three-month probationary period. The collective agreement between the inn and its union stipulated that termination during the probationary period would be subject only to employment standards legislation and could not be grieved.

The worker was 17 years old when she began her employment and it was her first job. It wasn't long after she started — November 2016 while she was still a probationary employee — when the worker complained to her supervisor that she had been harassed by another housekeeper on several occasions. The harassing behaviour involved, according to the worker, screaming and swearing at her about the quality of her work in front of co-workers and guests at the inn. This co-worker — who was the supervisor's sister — seemed to think she could “aggressively critique” the work of other housekeepers — others had also faced this co-worker's wrath.