Viola Landry and the Popeye Restaurant
One of Geraldton's mottos is "The Friendly Town with a Heart of Gold". Friendly, yes. But stupid, not so much. At least until the storm troopers from the Ontario HRC came marching into town to set things right.
You see, Ms. Landry hired a Ms. Giguere to come and work for her in her restaurant. But, it so happened that Ms. Giguere was in a common-law relationship with a man who was HIV-positive and also had Hepatitis C. Apparently, she had disclosed this to Ms. Landry, who at the time did not see it as a concern.
But then about 2 weeks later, Ms. Landry terminated Ms. Giguere apparently because of customer complaints related to her common-law spouse, and the concern of customers that Ms. Giguere had or might contract the AIDS virus.Interestingly enough, under Ontario Labour Law, an employee with less than 3 months service can be terminated without cause and without notice, which Ms. Landry did to Ms. Giguere.
But Ms. Giguere appeared to be smarter than the average bear, of which there are a few in the area, and her Heart was interested in the Gold. So, she filed a complaint with the Ontario HRC for discrimination due to Association.
This was found to have been such a significant case and so egregious in its implications that the Ontario HRC reported it in its 2008 annual report. You know you have arrived when you make the annual report.
Anyway, at the Human Rights Tribunal it was found that Ms. Giguere was fired because of her association with a person with a disability. Further, the Tribunal ruled that "a business owner is not entitled to terminate an employee because they feel their business will suffer because of the views of customers, where those views are related to proscribed grounds of discrimination."
In the end it no longer matters, since Ms. Landry doesn't have the restaurant any more. She now works as the caterer at the local golf course. I hope to contact her and find out what impact the stress and strain of the HRC pounding on her door trying to convince her that common sense was no longer common any more, or even desirable.
Oh, and by the way, Ms. Giguere turned out to not be so lily white in her dealings with the tribunal. She seems to have offered money to someone to give testimony to the Tribunal. With the tricks that the Tribunal is alleged to not be above using to get testimony themselves, it surprises me that they noticed that she had abused their process.
So, the Tribunal in a magnanimous gesture refused to award the Claimant any damages. However, they made Ms. Landry commit to making a charitable donation of $2,500 to an HIV/AIDS related organization in the area. To add insult to injury, they rubbed her nose in it further, and ordered Ms. Landry to post Human Rights Code cards at the restaurant. This was probably to show all those people in "The Friendly Town with a Heart of Gold" who had dared to complain about Ms. Giguere that that was a No No.
What they should have done was have added all the residents of Geraldton to the complaint and then have sent them all for sensitivity training. Then they could have rewritten their motto to "The Really Pissed Off Town that hates those Assholes from Toronto", but only after they got their completion certificates.