Home Arbitration/Labour Relations Room attendant who alleged manager called her ‘garbage’ was not bullied, harassed: Arbitrator

Room attendant who alleged manager called her ‘garbage’ was not bullied, harassed: Arbitrator

by HR Law Canada

An arbitrator has ruled that a room attendant at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver was not subjected to bullying or harassment by her supervisors.

The attendant, who is part of the union, claimed that her supervisor treated her roughly, and a manager referred to her as “garbage” during a sequence of events that occurred in late 2022. This led to the filing of a complaint with WorkSafeBC and a grievance through her union, Unite Here Local 40.


On Dec. 27, 2022, the grievor was assigned rooms to clean across two floors, and a dispute arose over the reassignment of a room in the housekeeping application HotSOS. (HotSOS is the app used to assign rooms to clean to staff.)

During a call with her supervisor, the grievor requested that the room be reassigned to her, a request that was brusquely declined. The room had been removed from the app cleaning schedule because the guest said they didn’t need it cleaned.

The grievor testified that her supervisor was dismissive throughout the call, hanging up on her, leaving her very upset. The supervisor, though, viewed it in an entirely different manner — categorizing the conversation as typical.

“I don’t remember raising my voice any more than usual,” and insisting that she did not hang up on the grievor. “I was done with my conversation, and I ended the call. The conversation was done, the call was done.”

The next day, the grievor approached a manager to discuss the incident in his office with her supervisor — where tensions escalated further.

The grievor alleged he told her she “played with words” and that he was “the manager, for 12 years in my country, you are garbage” and pointed to a trash can. The manager countered that he said something along the lines of “don’t play with me, this is not my first experience here” and that he had years of management experience. But he strongly denied calling her garbage, stating he doesn’t use words like that to anybody and it’s not his personality.

On Dec. 30, 2022, there was a phone call between the grievor and the manager regarding left-behind items in a cleaned room that further escalated tensions. He asked her to come see him to discuss the situation, and she said she was busy and could not come to his office.

When pressed, she said she didn’t want to come because she was “allergic” to something in his office. When he asked what that was, the grievor said “an animal in the office.”

The grievor did not return to work after the Dec. 30 incident and went to a medical clinic on Jan. 3. A bullying and harassment complaint was filed with WorkSafeBC over the supervisor’s conduct. The employer started an investigation.

The legal standard

The determination of whether harassment had occurred was based on the test outlined by Arbitrator Korbin in Overwaitea Food Group v. UFCW Local 1518 (Campbell Grievance), [1997] B.C.C.A.A.A No. 721.

The test includes an assessment of inappropriate behavior, vexatious conduct, unwelcome actions, and the absence of a legitimate work-related purpose.

Findings against the supervisor

Although the grievor found the supervisor to be abrupt, dismissive, and unhelpful in previous interactions, the arbitrator found the supervisor was engaged in her work-related duties and that her communication was not sufficient to ground a finding of harassment.

“While I accept that (her) manner of communicating this information was direct, and that she was not interested in considering the information the grievor was providing, that is not sufficent to ground a finding of harassment,” the arbitrator said.

Findings against the manager

The evidence surrounding the manager’s actions was examined, including the grievor’s claim that he called her “garbage.”

The arbitrator accepted that the grievor testified honestly about her recollection, but on a balance of probabilities, the arbitrator could not find that he made the statement. It pointed out that the manager’s evidence was clear and unequivocal and he made other admissions against his own interest. Further, both the grievor and another employee testified they never heard the manager make statements of that nature in the past.

If the manager had indeed called her garbage, that could give rise to a finding of harassment, the arbitrator said, also noting both parties conceded they became upset during the office meeting and both expressed regret.

The other interactions between the manager and the grievor were also found not to constitute harassment.

Impact of harassment

Despite the significant subjective impact on the grievor, the arbitrator concluded the events must be viewed objectively and found that the supervisor and manager were engaged in work-related tasks that involved supervision of room attendants. The claim of harassment was not established on the facts.


The grievance was denied, with the arbitrator finding that the union had not established, on a balance of probabilities, that the grievor was harassed. The evidence also did not establish that the employer failed to thoroughly investigate the grievor’s complaint.

It noted the grievor did not report the incidents directly to the employer, but filed a WorkSafeBC complaint that the employer later became aware of. At that point, it conducted interviews with those involved and concluded the actions alleged did not constitute bullying and harassment.

For more information, see Innvest Hotel GP Ltd. (Hyatt Regency Vancouver) v Unite Here Local 40, 2023 CanLII 76299 (BC LA)

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