A Penticton woman who claims she faced years of harassment and gender-based discrimination while employed at a local software systems company has had her complaint reviewed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
Carol Loiselle alleges she endured numerous instances of harassment and discrimination while employed at Windward Software Inc. from 2010 to 2017. In 2018, she filed a complaint against the company.
A decision released Jan. 12, 2020, by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found that some of Loiselle’s allegations were legitimate, while others did not have merit.
Namely, the tribunal found Loiselle was the victim of discrimination on three specific occasions, but overall the bullying and unfair treatment Loiselle claimed she endured was not part of an ongoing discriminatory work environment aimed at forcing her out of the company.
Loiselle began working at Windward Software in 2009 as an account manager.
She claims that things became difficult for her when Steve Sterry was also hired as an account manager in 2010. Despite Windward Software having a predominately male workforce overall, Sterry was the only male account manager upon his hiring.
Sterry was eventually promoted over Loiselle and still works for the company.
In the tribunal’s decision, Loiselle’s allegations are broken down into two categories: claims that she was treated differently in the workplace based on gender and claims of inappropriate male behaviour towards her.
Loiselle claims her sales manager Kevin Schilter treated her differently than Sterry — her peer and fellow account manager.
In meetings that occurred in late-2017, Sterry and a new sales manager told Loiselle that they had concerns about her performance and that they planned to take clients away from her if she didn’t improve. Loiselle testified these claims about her work performance were “disingenuous.”
After these meetings, Loiselle went on medical leave and never returned to Windward.
However, the tribunal found Windward’s concerns about Loiselle’s performance to be legitimate.
“I have found Windward had genuine concerns about Ms. Loiselle’s CRM note taking and client contact despite there not being documentation of it,” tribunal member Grace Chen wrote.
Loiselle stated Windward “constructively dismissed” her because the discrimination she suffered in the workplace led to her leaving the job and that Windward did little to stop the discrimination. Windward denies that it discriminated against Loiselle in any way.
The tribunal concluded that Loiselle had proven discrimination based on her sex and/or marital status in the incidents involving her hand being slapped and being given the inappropriate love questionnaire. Discrimination was also proven in three incidents involving an employee identified as SM. Loiselle says SM “hit her buttocks with keys, put her in a headlock and hit her on the forehead,” in three separate incidents taking place separately from 2013 to 2014.
SM was suspended by the company for three days without pay for hitting Loiselle on the forehead, but Loiselle was not made aware of the disciplinary action. No other actions were taken by Windward Software to dispel SM’s behaviour.
Ultimately, the tribunal found that Loiselle had not proven discrimination for the other allegations in her complaint due to insufficient evidence. It was also determined that she had not proven she was “consecutively dismissed due to discrimination.”
Both parties are expected to submit written submissions on a remedy to the tribunal. The parties may also take advantage of the tribunal’s mediation services to try to come to a mutual agreement.