A complaint of sexual harassment by a woman who identifies as gay will proceed to a hearing.
A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has rejected an application to dismiss the complaint filed by Stacey Greene against a dealership of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
In her reasons for decision, tribunal member Kathleen Smith wrote that Greene’s evidence is “more than mere speculation and could be sufficient to establish sexual harassment at a hearing”.
Greene was employed for about a month at Barnes Harley‐Davidson Victoria in Vancouver Island.
According to Greene, part of the reason she lost her job was that she did not reciprocate the affectionate advances of the dealership’s sales manager.
As recounted by Smith from submissions from the parties, it became apparent to Greene during her first week at work that the sales manager “had a bit of a crush” on her.
“She deposes that he told her he found her ‘sexually attractive’ and ‘was relieved that I am gay because it would not interfere with his relationship with [Finance Manager], who he referred to as his ‘work wife’,” Smith wrote.
In addition, the sales manager started calling Greene his “gay work wife”.
Greene also claimed that the sales manager told her again at a dinner at the general manager’s house that he found her sexually attractive, and was relieved to learn she was gay “because working with two attractive women would get him into trouble”.
“Ms. Greene alleges that the Sales Manager would hug and kiss her on the cheek and send her affectionate text messages,” Smith wrote.
Green also provided copies of text messages where the sales manager referred to her as “babe”, “my love”, and “honey”.
The sales manager also wrote “I love you”, and ends texts with “Xoxoxo”, which is shorthand for hugs and kisses, and a kissing emoji.
The sales manager claimed that he and Greene had a friendly relationship.
The sales manager admitted that “within that relationship, there was statements made and actions taken that were not appropriate for the workplace.”
However, the manager also claimed that Greene “never appeared agitated or upset by the comments or expressed discomfort with the text messages”.
In its evidence, the dealership argued that Greene was let go for reasons not related to her sex.
“It says the decision was made exclusively on her poor performance, dishonesty and because she was not a good fit with the Dealership,” Smith wrote.
The dealership also claimed that the alleged treatment of Greene was “limited to a few inappropriate or unprofessional comments and actions”.
In addition, while the comments made the sales manager “fall into the realm of poor taste or inappropriateness, not the threatening, offensive or repeated comments necessary to ground a finding of discrimination under the Code”.
Smith noted: “It is undisputed that the Sales Manager engaged in unprofessional and inappropriate conduct at work.”
However, the parties disagree on whether his conduct rises to the level of sexual harassment in violation of the B.C. Human Rights Code.
“In summary, there are multiple conflicts in the evidence that are, in my view, foundational and do not overwhelmingly support one particular result,” Smith ruled.
Hence, a hearing is required on Greene’s complaint.