Lisa McIntosh was awarded $12,500 in general damages, as well as lost wages, after being forced to leave her job due to sexual harassment by her boss, Zbigniew Augustynowicz.
Ms. McIntosh worked at Metro Aluminum as a delivery driver. She had a brief consensual relationship with her boss, but called it off after a couple of months. Ms. McIntosh and Mr. Augustynowicz had exchanged sexually suggestive text messages during their relationship.
After Ms. McIntosh ended the relationship, Mr. Augustynowicz sent sexually demeaning and provocative text messages to Ms. McIntosh and ignored her repeated written and verbal requests for him to stop.
Ms. McIntosh went off work due to stress following two months of Mr. Augustynowicz’s repeated sexual harassment via text message. Despite this, Mr. Augustynowicz continued to harass Ms. McIntosh during her stress leave.
Not surprisingly, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) agreed with Ms. McIntosh that she was subject to discrimination and sexual harassment in employment on the basis of sex. A link to the decision can be found here.
As the Tribunal explained, Mr. Augustynowicz was in a position of authority over Ms. McIntosh. He was responsible for ensuring that her workplace was free of sexual harassment. According to the Tribunal, Mr. Augustynowicz failed in this responsibility by repeatedly sending Ms. McIntosh sexually demeaning text communications when he knew, or ought to have known, that his sexual comments and propositions were offensive, inappropriate and unlawful.
The Tribunal found that while as consenting adults, Mr. Augustynowicz and Ms. McIntosh were entitled to enter into a sexual relationship in the workplace, despite this being ill-advised. However, once the relationship was over, Mr. Augustynowicz had a legal responsibility to ensure that he ceased such sexually suggestive communications. The Tribunal also concluded that Ms. McIntosh’s boss had failed to ensure that the breakdown of his relationship with Ms. McIntosh did not negatively impact her working environment.