Home Workplace Legislation/Press Releases Edmonton home builder hit with allegations of sexual assault, workplace misconduct in lawsuit

Edmonton home builder hit with allegations of sexual assault, workplace misconduct in lawsuit

by HR Law Canada

Five former employees of a new-home builder in Edmonton, have initiated legal proceedings against the company and one of its major shareholders, according to a press release from Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

The lawsuits allege sexual assault, failure to provide a safe workplace, and retaliation against employees who raised concerns about misconduct. The claimants are seeking a total of $6.2 million in damages.

None of the claims have been proven.

Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, an employee-focused employment law firm, is representing the former employees in their claims. The allegations revolve around Coventry Homes’ alleged failure to establish a safe working environment and their handling of complaints against a director of sales, who is accused of sexually assaulting and harassing two female employees. The lawsuits also highlight claims that three other female employees who raised concerns faced retaliation, including suspension without pay and termination.

Lia Moody, employment lawyer and Western Canada Practice Leader at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, expressed concern over the alleged actions of Coventry Homes.

She emphasized the importance of addressing such serious misconduct, stating, “Coventry Homes’ alleged actions and inaction are deeply troubling. Our clients’ rights were disregarded, creating a toxic work environment where sexual misconduct went unaddressed. No individual should endure such treatment or face repercussions for exercising their rights.”

One of the claimants, who worked as an area sales manager for nearly two years, alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the director in a parking lot after her drink was allegedly spiked during a work dinner. She reported the incident to the police, underwent a rape kit examination, and took medical leave due to the traumatic experience. However, she claims that Coventry Homes constructively dismissed her in June 2021 following the events.

In April 2022, the director was arrested and charged with one count of sexual assault after an investigation by the Edmonton Police Service.

The lawsuit alleges that the CEO sent an email to all employees defending the director and casting doubt on the allegations. Despite assurances the accused would remain on leave until the conclusion of his criminal trial, he was reinstated to his position without warning, it claims.

Aaron Levitin, employment lawyer and associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, also representing the former employees, stressed that companies have a responsibility to take complaints seriously and investigate allegations of serious misconduct and sexual harassment promptly.

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