"Hi Sweetie One"

Fougere v. Rallis (No. 1) (2003), 46 C.H.R.R. D/392, 2003 BCHRT 23

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Stathi Rallis and Kalamata Greek Taverna were liable for sexual harassment of Jocelyn Fougere.

In a preliminary decision, the Tribunal found Stathi Rallis in contempt of the Tribunal and barred him from further participation in the proceedings. This occurred after Mr. Rallis accused the Tribunal of being "corrupt" on several occasions, threatened to have the Tribunal Chair fired, and on the second day of the proceedings apparently interfered with the Tribunal's property and procedures by removing a tape from the machine being used to record the hearing.

Ms. Pow, who was the owner of the Kalamata Greek Taverna and Mr. Rallis's wife, participated in the hearing to represent the interests of the corporate respondent.

The Tribunal accepted Ms. Fougere's evidence that she was hired by Kalamata Greek Taverna to work as a "bus person" when she was 17 years old. She was hired by Mr. Rallis, who knew her age. She began working February 2, 2001. In her initial period of employment she enjoyed her work and was treated well. Mr. Rallis, who managed the service in the restaurant, called her "sweet" and "beautiful" and did not criticize her for the normal mistakes that she made in the process of learning her job.

On February 25, 2001, Mr. Rallis gave Ms. Fougere a note at work. It said: "Hi Sweetie one. Yesterday I wanted tell you how beautiful your hair looked but could not do it in front of Laura [Ms. Pow]. I have such a crush on you! Can you keep a secret? I'd love to go to a movie or something with you on Monday (tomorrow). Can you get away. Can you give me your pager #".

Ms. Fougere was upset and shocked by this letter. She showed it to her father and, after he had consulted the Human Rights Commission, he helped her write a reply to Mr. Rallis. Her response stated that she did not appreciate Mr. Rallis's personal advances, and did not want to be approached by him except for work-related reasons. She also stated that his conduct was sexual harassment and that any further incident would be reported to the Human Rights Commission.

After Mr. Rallis received this note, his attitude to Ms. Fougere changed. He ignored her and when he did notice her, he criticized her work. On March 7, 2001, Ms. Pow telephoned Ms. Fougere to tell her that she was letting her go because "it was not working out".

The Tribunal rejected the respondents' argument that Ms. Fougere was let go because she was too young to be working in a restaurant where there was a bar, and because she had entered her hours improperly on her time sheet.

The Tribunal found that Mr. Rallis sexually harassed Ms. Fougere. When she indicated that she did not reciprocate his interest, or wish to have him approach her in a sexual way, her employment was terminated. The Tribunal awarded Ms. Fougere $847.50 as compensation for lost wages, and $1,200 for injury to dignity. The Panel also decided that Ms. Fougere was entitled to costs of these proceedings from Mr. Rallis. The Tribunal remained seized of the costs issue.

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