Home Featured Former personal trainer at GoodLife Fitness who filed harassment complaint months after leaving has application dismissed

Former personal trainer at GoodLife Fitness who filed harassment complaint months after leaving has application dismissed

by HR Law Canada

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has dismissed an application from a former GoodLife Fitness personal trainer who alleged discrimination due to sexual harassment — but didn’t tell their employer about it until more than six months after they left.

“Tribunal caselaw has repeatedly held that an employer respondent has no legal duty to conduct a workplace investigation where the person requesting the investigation is no longer an employee,” the Tribunal said in its ruling.

The application centered around claims by a former employee, TR, who argued that they were sexually harassed by a co-worker while working at a GoodLife Fitness location in London, Ont.

The tribunal’s decision hinged primarily on whether the employer had failed to investigate the applicant’s harassment complaint. The applicant claimed to have made verbal complaints of harassment both before and after their employment was terminated.

Conversely, GoodLife Fitness maintained that no harassment complaint was received from TR until several months post-termination.

The tribunal found that the applicant had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the respondent neglected its duty to investigate the harassment allegations.

“None of the applicant’s allegations regarding a timely complaint to the respondent are corroborated by any witnesses or by the contemporaneous documentation,” the ruling stated.

Additionally, the decision noted, “All the (GoodLife Fitness) witnesses are consistent in their evidence that at no time during the applicant’s employment with the respondent did she inform them of the alleged harassment by the co-worker.”

The tribunal also addressed the concept of a poisoned work environment but concluded that this was not applicable since there was no evidence to suggest GoodLife was aware or should have been aware of the alleged harassment.

“For a poisoned work environment to become a condition of the applicant’s employment the respondent must, at a minimum, have knowledge of or ought to have had knowledge or awareness of its existence,” the ruling said.

“If a respondent never had such knowledge, they would never have had the opportunity to conduct any appropriate investigation or to take reasonable steps to address the poisoned work environment.”

In its conclusion, the tribunal stated, “In all the circumstances I find that the applicant has failed to establish on a balance of probabilities that she reported to the respondent her allegations of harassment during her employment and as such the respondent did not breach its duty under the Code to investigate her complaints.”

The Tribunal also noted that the alleged perpetrator in this case was a financial analyst.

“The nature of their respective employment duties required minimal, if any, interaction,” the Tribunal said. “The co-worker was not in any supervisory capacity in relation to the applicant.  He was not the directing mind of the respondent or involved in any management role.”

The application was dismissed.

For more information, see Rougoor v. Goodlife Fitness Centres Inc., 2024 HRTO 312 (CanLII).

You may also like

About Us

HR Law Canada is dedicated to covering labour and employment news for lawyers, HR professionals and employers. Published by North Wall Media.