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An exhibition of poor workplace etiquette

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Female worker chased with sausage

FORT MCMURRAY -- A restaurant forced to tolerate "abnormal behaviour" due to the tight labour market will pay lost wages to a woman whose sister was chased by a fellow employee holding a sausage through the zipper of his pants.

In a complaint before the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, Diane Carr, a cook at Humpty's Family Restaurant, told of a long series of harassment, including name-calling, by Chris Troake, a fellow kitchen staffer.

The harassment back in 2003 and 2004 included Troake's possession of an egg with a nude woman drawn on the shell at work and his references to female employees' sexual attributes. During the sausage incident, Troake put a sausage in the fly of his pants and waved it at Carr's sister, Judy Thomson, asking her if she wanted to take a bite. He chased her, causing her to scream so loud the manager of the adjoining Super 8 came in to see what was going on.

Carr approached the manager, Pyarali Lakhani, to complain about Troake, but he offered no solutions, Carr testified at a hearing.

Lakhani said no one but Carr complained about Troake's behaviour.

Both Lakhani and Suzanne Odenbach, a supervisor, said they had to put up with kitchen banter that included foul language, due to the labour shortage in Fort McMurray.

In the end, Carr ended up leaving her shift in January 2004 after Troake made several comments to her.

She testified that after she refused to switch to the night shift, she was told her job was over.

Lakhani told the panel he deemed her to have quit when she stopped showing up for work. The panel, in a written judgment, ruled Carr was discriminated against. She was awarded about $6,300 in lost wages.

In the judgment, the panel chair, Delano Tolley, noted a B.C. Council of Human Rights ruling that "express objection need not be shown to establish that the behaviour is unwelcome where a reasonable person knew or ought to have known that it is unwelcome."

The restaurant chain has changed its new employee orientation policy as a result of the case. Employees now must read the sexual harassment and company policy guide and sign a form stating they have understood it, said area manager Rick MacPherson.


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