Home Featured Transgender man awarded $18,000 for discrimination he faced at NC Tractor Services – including ‘deadnaming’

Transgender man awarded $18,000 for discrimination he faced at NC Tractor Services – including ‘deadnaming’

by HR Law Canada

A transgender man has been awarded a total of $18,000 by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for discrimination he faced while employed at NC Tractor Services Inc.

DB, who uses masculine pronouns and the name Denny in all areas of his life, faced persistent harassment at his workplace, including being repeatedly referred to by his birth name — a practice known as “deadnaming” — and being misgendered with female pronouns.

He was also asked by a co-worker (SA) which washroom he uses, even though there was only one washroom in the workplace, the Tribunal noted.

DB’s complaint outlined a workplace environment that failed to respect his gender identity, with specific instances of discriminatory harassment by his coworkers and by AC, the owner of NC Tractor.

The Tribunal found that DB was subjected to harassment on the basis of his gender identity or expression, contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act. This harassment included not only deadnaming and misgendering but also invasive questions about his transgender status and inappropriate comments that demeaned his gender identity.

“(AC) testified that (DB) had asked him to call him Denny but that he refuses to call anyone by a name other than their legal name in the workplace because doing so would be unprofessional and illegal,” the Tribunal said.

“He emphasized that (DB) had applied for the job using his deadname. (AC) testified that he believes he has a legal obligation to use the name that appears on an employee’s government-issued documents in the workplace, despite the fact that several people in the workplace, including him, used shortened versions of their legal names or nicknames on a regular basis,” it said.

But the Tribunal noted that AC did not point to any such law, and it was unaware of any rules that require employers to deadname their employees.

“Human rights legislation across Canada, including the CHRA, requires employers to respect the dignity of their employees by not discriminating against them on the basis of their gender identity or expression,” it said.

During the course of the human rights hearing, the Tribunal noted that both AC and SA misgendered DB — “even after being corrected by (DB’s) counsel and the Tribunal.”

DB has been awarded $15,000 for pain and suffering, with an additional $3,000 in special compensation due to the willful or reckless nature of the discriminatory practices by AC and NC Tractor. The Tribunal has ordered the coworker, SA, to pay 20% of the pain and suffering damages, acknowledging her role in the harassment, though noting her conduct during the hearing was comparatively less harmful.

That meant AC and NC Tractor was ordered to pay $15,000 and AC was ordered to pay $3,000.

This ruling underscores the challenges transgender individuals can face in the workplace and reinforces the protections offered under Canadian human rights legislation.

The Tribunal declined to order specific training for the individual respondents given the cessation of NC Tractor’s operations. But it left the door open to do in the future should the company restart operations.

“If NC Tractor becomes operational again under (AC) in the one-year period following the date of this decision, I order that (AC) contact the Commission in order to receive advice about training for him and his employees concerning harassment in relation to trans and gender diverse individuals,” it said.

For more information, see Bilac v. Abbey, Currie and NC Tractor Services Inc., 2023 CHRT 43 (CanLII).

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