Judge dismisses petition by B.C. resort owner who claimed that former employees concocted stories of racism

In 2018, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Kin Wa Chan repeatedly said that he wanted to replace white workers with those of Chinese ancestry

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      The major shareholder of a B.C. Interior resort has struck out in his attempt to overturn a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruling.

      On October 24, 2018, the B.C. Human Tribunal’s then chair, Diana Juricevic, awarded more than $173,000 to seven former employees of the Spruce Hill Resort and Spa in 108 Mile. It came after allegations that the owner of the 8,000-hectare tourist destination, Kin Wa Chan, had discriminated against six of them on them basis of colour and race and a seventh on the basis of colour, race, and sex.

      In the tribunal decision, Juricevic concluded that Chan had “repeatedly said that he wanted to replace Caucasian employees with Chinese employees to reduce labour costs”.

      In B.C. Supreme Court filings, Chan and Spruce Hill Resort and Spa Ltd. alleged that the complainants had “concocted grounds of discrimination” before the tribunal. That included an allegation from one of the complainants that Chan had discriminated against her on the basis of sex during a business trip to Hong Kong.

      Justice Dennis Hori dismissed the judicial-review application.

      “On my review of the Tribunal’s decision, I see nothing to lead me to the conclusion that the Tribunal’s discretionary decision on mitigation was patently unreasonable,” Hori wrote in his decision.

      The judge noted that Chan and the resort did not produce transcripts from the tribunal hearing as part of their application. As a result, Hori’s ruling came without any reference to the actual testimony before the tribunal.

      The one former employee who also succeeded at the tribunal in alleging sex discrimination had testified that she and Chan visited a Hong Kong marketplace that mainly sold sex toys. However, under cross-examination, this former employee admitted that sex toys comprised less than 20 percent of the items at the market.

      On this basis, Chan and the resort claimed that Juricevic erred in her finding of sex discrimination.

      Hori stated in his decision that he had “no basis upon which to assess the accuracy of the petitioners’ submission” about what the former employee said because no transcripts were produced.

      “However, I find that the petitioners’ challenge to the Tribunal’s finding of discrimination based on sex cannot succeed,” Hori added. “The Tribunal’s finding of discrimination based on sex is not based on whether the marketplace sold mainly sex toys or whether the sale of sex toys comprised only 20% of its sales.”

      In fact, he wrote, the basis for the finding was that Chan expected the former employee “to share a hotel room with him during their business trip to Hong Kong”.

      “The Tribunal’s decision on discrimination based on sex does not turn on the prevalence of sex toys in the market,” the judge stated in the ruling.