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Racism in the Workplace

Job Applicant Discriminated Against on Grounds of Colour, Race & Ethnicity Successfully Pursues Human Rights Case

Malek Bouraoui explained at a recent hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Decision: September 3, 2014) that after applying for a position with Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration he received a telephone call from an employee of the Company named “Jesse” who proceeded to ask him what country he was from and whether he was white or black. Mr. Bouraoui, in shock and disbelief, responded only that he was not from Canada.

A short while later he received the following text message from Jesse:

“Try learning English you will have better luck I don’t hire foreners (sic) I keep the white man working”

When Mr. Bouraoui responded that he would file a complaint against the Company for what he considered to be racist and discriminatory conduct, he received the following text messages in return:

“I didn’t say anything that is racist all I sad (sic) was I don’t hire foreners (sic) and I hire white men so stop texting me take it how ever you want if you text me again it will be hearasment (sic) and there is no law for what I said it’s called freedom of speech in Canada maybe you would know that if you were a Canadian good by stop wasting my time I run a business I don’t have for you get a life”

“And stop texting me and go file a complaint he will probably be a white man and he will probably laugh at you and tell you to go away”

The Tribunal accepted the uncontested evidence of Mr. Bouraoui and found that the Company was vicariously liable for the conduct of Jesse who engaged in a number of breaches of the Ontario Human Rights Code including discrimination on the basis of race, color and ethnic origin. The Tribunal ordered the Company to pay $8000.00 to Mr. Bouraoui in compensation for injury to his dignity, feelings and self-respect and the current owners and managers of the Company were ordered to complete the Human Rights 101 eLearning Module prepared by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Further Reading: Bouraoui v. Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration, 2014, HRTO, 1303

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