Legal News

Lack of Employment Relationship Negates Human Rights Claim

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint of sexual harassment after determining that the complainant, a contractor, was not in an employment relationship with the respondent.

The complainant contracted with the respondent to perform design and construction work in the renovation of his restaurant. The complainant provided the respondent with a quotation and a schedule for the work to be done, and the two eventually arrived at a verbal agreement. The complainant alleged that, during the course of the project, the respondent repeatedly engaged in behaviour that constituted sexual harassment contrary to the Human Rights Code.

The Tribunal identified the threshold issue as whether the complainant was in an employment relationship with the respondent so as to engage Section 13 of the Code, which prohibits discrimination “regarding employment or any term or condition of employment”.

The Tribunal observed that a broad and purposive interpretation of “employment” in Section 13 best fulfills the objects of the Code. However, the Tribunal determined on the particular facts of this case that the nature of the working relationship between the contractor and the respondent was not an employment relationship. Having made this determination, the Tribunal concluded it was not required to determine the merits of the sexual harassment complaint and it made no finding in this respect.

Andrews v. Chilli House Thai Bistro and Chen (No. 2), 2007 BCHRT 88