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Casino tour operator fined for violating workers rights

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March 16, 2009

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For immediate publication

Toronto - Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has found casino tour operator Tai Pan Vacations Inc. liable for committing an act of reprisal against a female employee who had settled a related human rights complaint.

The Tribunal has ruled that Tai Pan, also known as Tai Pan Tours Inc. and one of the largest Chinese Canadian owned tour bus operators in the Greater Toronto Area, committed a “wilful and egregious violation” of Ontario’s human rights code and the company must pay former customer service representative Sui-Fan “Fanny” Chan nearly $60,000, plus interest, in compensation for emotional sufferings as well as restitution for lost wages and benefits.

“This very large amount of money that the Tribunal has ordered Tai Pan Vacations to pay to Ms. Chan is appropriate for the distress and financial hardship the company caused my client,” says Ms. Chan’s legal counsel Avvy Go, Clinic Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.

“This decision, particularly $15,000 the company must pay to its former employee for her humiliation and loss of dignity, serves notice to business owners that the rights of workers must be upheld even in trying economic times,” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), also with the Colour of Poverty Campaign, which advocates on poverty issues facing racialized communities.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission supported Ms. Chan in her complaint. It also wanted to ensure that other Tai Pan employees would not be discriminated against in the future. The employer in the case, Tai Pan, was ordered to draft policies to combat discrimination and harassment as well as a workplace accommodation policy and to have managers trained within six months.

“The Tribunal’s decision reflects the seriousness of this case,” said Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner. “Employers need to understand that they cannot punish employees who pursue their rights under the Human Rights Code,” she said.

“Sadly, this case reflects that in the 21st century, women are still being penalized for being women,” said Uzma Shakir, member of the Colour of Poverty Campaign. “Economic downturn is being used as an excuse by employers to punish women for being pregnant. Her winning the case is certainly a victory for Ms. Chan, but it is a sad statement that in this day and age, working women like her have to fight for their right to keep their job and still have a family,” added Shakir.

In her first human rights complaint, Ms. Chan alleged discrimination after Tai Pan fired her when she told them she was pregnant. After suffering a miscarriage, Tai Pan rehired her only to fire her again just three weeks after settling her first complaint.

Tribunal adjudicator Eric Whist, in his 20-page decision, wrote: “The company’s decision to terminate the complainant a mere three weeks after Ms. Chan’s first complaint was settled goes beyond being wilfully blind or reckless, it was a calculated retaliation. The respondent mistakenly believed it could terminate Ms. Chan with impunity.”

For further information, please contact:

Avvy Go,
Clinic Director
Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

Debbie Douglas,
Executive Director
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
416-322-4950, ext. 229 and cell: (416) 524-4950

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Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-4528