The BC Humans Rights Tribunal has ruled that a Victoria woman was sexually harassed and unfairly fired from her job at an Esquimalt denture clinic.
Jasmine Basic was employed as a receptionist at Esquimalt Denture Clinic Ltd. starting in October 2017, where she alleged she was sexually harassed by the clinic’s owner Andrew Lee, over roughly eight months.
Court documents from the BC Human Rights Tribunal show that Lee admitted to touching Basic’s breasts and buttocks several times but said four of those incidents were accidents and the others were “welcomed up to certain point.” He also admitted to complimenting Basic’s appearance and talking about sexual topics but said she “initiated those conversations and invited those compliments.”
In one incident, Basic said Lee slapped her on the buttocks with a magazine when she had bent over to pick up her purse. In his explanation of this incident, Lee said it was only a tap with a pamphlet. He said he would have “used his hand” to slap her buttocks if he wanted to sexually harass her.
The tribunal heard of five occasions where Lee touched Basic’s breasts or looked down her shirt. Lee acknowledged doing this at least once.
In May 2018 Basic was fired by Lee’s wife, who had begun monitoring their interactions through surveillance cameras. Lee and the clinic – respondents in the human rights complaint – claim Basic wanted to break up the couple’s marriage and fabricated the allegations “motivated purely by scorn, malice and greed.”
The tribunal judge however, disagreed concluding that Basic was discriminated against on the basis of sex. She was awarded $25,000 for injury to dignity. The clinic was ordered to pay her another $1,612 for legal and other expenses and an additional $11,796 for wages lost.
“[Basic] worked under the supervision of the person who was sexually harassing her and had no other person in authority to whom she could bring any complaint about his conduct,” writes Tribunal Chair Diana Juricevic in her decision. “She was vulnerable given her age, limited job experience and education, and informal nature of her training.”
Juricevic also wrote that she accepted Basic’s description of the impact of the incident continues to have on her.
“Ms. Basic gave sincere evidence about feeling anxious and depressed,” she writes. “The stress encompassed economic stress and stress to personal relationships.”