Home Featured Former Opa! Souvlaki worker awarded nearly $40,000 for sexual harassment, poisoned work environment

Former Opa! Souvlaki worker awarded nearly $40,000 for sexual harassment, poisoned work environment

by HR Law Canada

A former worker at Opa! Souvlaki has been awarded nearly $40,000 by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after it concluded she was subjected to sexual harassment, a poisoned work environment, and reprisal.

The applicant, S.E., claimed discrimination with respect to employment due to sex, including allegations of sexual harassment, sexual advances, and reprisal. After withdrawing her application against an individual respondent due to inability to confirm his complete name, she proceeded against the remaining three respondents, settling with Opa! Souvlaki Franchise Group before the hearing. The other respondents were the corporation running the restaurant location where she worked — 2474489 Ontario Inc. — and an individual, F.R.

The Tribunal highlighted that the corporate and individual respondents did not respond to the application and were therefore noted in default, accepting all allegations and forfeiting rights to participation in the proceedings.

“The respondents were deemed to have accepted all the allegations set out in the application and to have waived all rights to notice or participation in these proceedings,” the Tribunal decision stated.

Distressing experiences

During the default hearing, the applicant recounted her distressing experiences, including unwanted sexual comments, solicitation, and physical contact from a manager named ‘Daniel’.

The Tribunal found credible her account of being sexually assaulted twice by Daniel, once in an elevator and again in a storage room, after which she was threatened with termination for attempting to avoid work due to safety concerns.

“The applicant’s evidence is that the respondents did not undertake an investigation of any kind into the applicant’s complaints,” the Tribunal said, emphasizing the lack of any effort by the respondents to investigate or resolve the harassment complaints, contributing to the continuation of a discriminatory work environment.

Compensation awarded

As a result of the toxic environment, the applicant was forced to quit her job, subsequently experiencing fear and reluctance to seek new employment.

The Tribunal ordered 2474489 Ontario Inc and F.R. to pay $35,000 in compensation for violations of her rights under the Human Rights Code, plus $3,492 in lost wages.

Additionally, the respondents were ordered to complete the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Webinar on “Preventing sexual harassment at work.”

For more information, see S.E. v. 2474489 Ontario Inc. (o/a Opa! Souvlaki), 2024 HRTO 343 (CanLII).

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