A recent British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal decision has struck down a human rights complaint by a supermarket customer on the grounds that she was already compensated by the store for her complaint. But what compensation was considered enough?

In Duke v Sobeys, 2018 BCHRT 283, the complainant went grocery shopping at a Sobey's in British Columbia. While shopping, the complainant stated she was approached by an employee who told her inappropriate sex jokes. The employee admitted to his behaviour. Ms. Duke then requested a $250 gift card and an apology, both of which Sobeys provided. After the fact, Ms. Duke filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

The Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the gift card and the apology were sufficient compensation in the circumstances. The Tribunal found that Sobey's promptly responded to the complaint, immediately investigated it and addressed it appropriately.

Because Sobey's dealt with the complaint as efficiently as possible to ensure that if any discrimination existed, it would be resolved appropriately, the court felt no other remedial measures were necessary.

The Tribunal also stated, "it does not further the purposes of the Code to encourage a complainant to increase what is sought, after they receive what they initially ask for". Since the customer asked for compensation, and Sobey's promptly provided it to her, no further remedies were required.

The complaint was ultimately dismissed under section 27(1)(d)(ii) of the British Columbia Human Rights Code as it did not further the purposes of the Code.

What does this decision tell us?

As an employer, it is very important to respond quickly to complaints to avoid negative legal consequences. In this case, Sobey's was quick to investigate the complaint and dealt with it in a reasonable manner that clearly ameliorated their customer's concerns, at least at the time. This was sufficient to allow Sobey's to avoid an unfavourable decision of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

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