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Them wins! BC Human Rights tribunal fines restaurant $30K for using wrong gender pronouns

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has ruled a restaurant’s staff discriminated against a non‐binary, gender fluid, transgender person who uses they/them pronouns.

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It’s a victory for they and them.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has ruled a restaurant’s staff discriminated against a non‐binary, gender fluid, transgender person who uses they/them pronouns.

Jessie Nelson worked as a server for Buono Osteria, a restaurant run by Michael Buono and Ryan Kingsberry in Gibsons, BC.

Nelson claimed bar manager Brian Gobelle persistently referred to they with she/her
pronouns and with gendered nicknames like “sweetheart”, “honey”, and “pinky.”

Nelson asked Gobelle to stop, but he did not, the tribunal wrote in its verdict.

“On their final day of work, Jessie Nelson again tried to speak to Mr. Gobelle about this
issue and the discussion grew heated. Four days later, they were fired. Pressed to explain the termination, Mr. Kingsberry told Jessie Nelson that they had simply come on ‘too strong too fast’ and were too ‘militant,’” wrote the tribunal’s Devyn Cousineau.

“Jessie Nelson alleges that Mr. Gobelle’s conduct towards them, and the employer’s
response, amounts to discrimination in employment based on their gender identity and
expression.

“I find that Buono Osteria, Mr. Gobelle, Mr. Kingsberry, and Mr. Buono discriminated against Jessie Nelson and I order remedies against them.”

Michael Buono

During they’s first shift on May 27, 2019, they were talking with Kingsberry about the importance she placed on using the proper pronouns, said Cousineau.

“They made mistakes — as Jessie Nelson expected, and accepted, that they would. Jessie Nelson perceived some staff were nervous about making mistakes and kept their distance,” wrote Cousineau.

“Mr. Gobelle referred to Jessie Nelson by nicknames. When they started work, they had
pink hair and so Mr. Gobelle called them “pinky.” He also referred to them as “sweetheart,” “sweetie,” and “honey.” When he used pronouns, Mr. Gobelle referred to Jessie Nelson as she/her.

“This was all very hurtful. Jessie Nelson experienced the nicknames as offensive, degrading, and minimizing. Sweetie, sweetheart, and honey are all nicknames traditionally used for women and femme people. They specifically undermined and erased Jessie Nelson’s gender identity.”

On three separate occasions, Nelson asked Gobelle to stop as they thought the remarks were “condescending.” Gobelle in his testimony said the “pinky” reference was just about they’s hair and he didn’t remember them telling him to stop.

Finally, after the behavior showed no signs of stopping, Nelson approached Gobelle outside while he was on a smoke break on June 23, 2019.

“They recall that Mr. Gobelle laughed and responded, ‘yeah I don’t f—ing like you.’ He told them, ‘you’re trying to police our language and tell me how to speak, and what words to use.’ He felt this was unfair and that it went against what his grandfather had fought for in the war,” wrote Cousineau.

Gobelle ended the conversation walking back into the bar, with they in pursuit. More words were exchanged before them finally left. Kingsberry decided the best course of action was to fire they because them was still in a probationary period. Kingsbury called Nelson four days later.

“Based on what Mr. Kingsberry said, Jessie Nelson understood that they were being
terminated because of their gender identity. This was devastating. Immediately after the call, Jessie Nelson went home with their two friends and sobbed,” wrote Cousineau.

On March 24, 2020, Nelson filed the complaint with the human rights tribunal.

“All employees have the right to a workplace free of discrimination. Trans employees are
entitled to recognition of, and respect for, their gender identity and expression. This begins with using their names and pronouns correctly. This is not an ‘accommodation’, it is a basic obligation that every person holds towards people in their employment,” Cousineau ruled.

“I find that Mr. Gobelle discriminated against Jessie Nelson in their employment.
His use of female pronouns and gendered nicknames demeaned them and undermined their dignity at work.

“In my view, the employer’s response fell short of what was reasonable and appropriate
and sowed the seeds for the altercation that would lead to Jessie Nelson’s termination.”

Cousineau found Nelson’s gender identity was the main reason for her dismissal.

Nelson said they should be compensated to the tune of $30,000 and Cousineau agreed. Kingsberry and Bouno were fined $20,000 and Gobelle $10,000.

He ordered the restaurant to develop a pronoun policy and implement mandatory training for management and staff about human rights law.

You can read Cousineau’s entire 41-page report here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Andrew A

    October 1, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I honestly didn’t understand most of this article. Who exactly are they and them? Why are the editors at Western Standard, who presumably need readers, contributing to the demise of the English language? I don’t subscribe to things I don’t understand.

    What I do understand is that Jessie Nelson is mentally ill and that the BC Human Rights authorities are making her mental illness mandatory on her employers.

  2. Eric Marney

    October 1, 2021 at 8:11 am

    “He ordered the restaurant to develop a pronoun policy and implement mandatory training for management and staff about human rights law.”
    WTF!! How in a ‘free’ society can we be forced to take training to placate these snowflakes and legitimize this incoherent nonsense. I think I’ll just blow my brains out now before this BS goes any further

  3. RM

    October 1, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Get used to it. This is life under the totalitarian NDP.

  4. westofsask@hotmail.com

    October 1, 2021 at 7:20 am

    This is an outrage! The Human Rights Tribunal of BC is a joke! Frankly, all the human rights councils in Canada are worse than useless!

  5. Claudette Leece

    October 1, 2021 at 6:22 am

    Boy have Canadians raised a generation of folks with no backbones anymore, there held up by a flower petal. Lord

  6. Andrejs Bondarenko

    September 30, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    “They?” “Them?” Are we even talking about one person or some sort of a gang? My brain hurts even just from reading this article. I thought I knew English, more or less, after speaking, reading and writing it for 15 years, but now I’m told I have to use plural pronoun for a single person.

    And now what if I go somewhere with my MALE friends and someone refers to all of us as “they”? Can I sue them too and get my 30 grand? I don’t self-identify as gender-fluid whatever, how dare they… oops, never mind, I meant to say how dare ‘anyone’ to use incorrect pronoun when referring to me!

  7. Greg Porter

    September 30, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Fergus,I was thinking the same ting.
    When I read this part “They made mistakes — as Jessie Nelson expected
    I was thinking isn’t Jessie Nelson “They”
    Its like a real life Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first”

  8. Fergus Hodgson

    September 30, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Canada is a parody.

  9. Dennis

    September 30, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    Ya Nicholas, I wondered the same thing. I think its just Dave’s warped sense of humour to get a rise out of us so see if we’re paying attention.

  10. luigi

    September 30, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    Are they, them, the same pronouns as “it”?
    If I have this correct…. They, them, it, went home and sobbed? Sounds similar to the snowflake we have for PM. Break out the Kleenex!

  11. Left Coast

    September 30, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Good luck finding another job Pinky . . . this is just so insane on so many levels.

  12. Baron Not Baron

    September 30, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    The country is burning and THEY get to make money, for free. “*** *** went home with their two friends and sobbed.” Aww..

  13. Declan Carroll

    September 30, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    Pronouns good, Charter Of Rights and Freedoms bad. Got it. “Human Rights Tribunal”. Lol

  14. Baron Not Baron

    September 30, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Typical for the Canadian justice system – all judges are lobotomized and worth less than a dime a dozen.

  15. Nicholas Koch

    September 30, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Is this the Calgary herald?

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News

New Sask law exempts employers from COVID-19 lawsuits

The release bragged that Saskatchewan was one of only five jurisdictions with such extensive sexual harassment protections, but after the legislation was passed, Morgan defended the COVID-19 provisions as being common.

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By Lee Harding

Employees’ quests for legal COVID-19 recourse has died with recently passed legislation that is “protecting vulnerable workers” according to Labour Minister Don Morgan.

Legislation recently passed by the Government of Saskatchewan prevents employers from being sued for implementing measures listed in the Public Employers’ COVID-19 Emergency Regulations or the Employers’ COVID-19 Emergency Regulations.

Amendments to the Saskatchewan Employment Act say “no action or proceeding lies or shall be commenced or maintained against an employer” if that employer acts in good faith.

“It’s broad general thing that would cover anything related to COVID-19 — signage, lack of signage, whatever else might reasonably arise from it. The threshold is that they must act in good faith,” said Morgan.

“We aren’t trying to target a specific lawsuit that’s been started or being threatened … But we know that COVID-19 vaccines, etc., are a worldwide issue right now and we want to be able to encourage our employers to have some comfort that they’re not going to be subject to lawsuits.”

The legislation applies regardless of when a perceived transgression may have occurred. The amendment received royal assent November 30. However, when the Saskatchewan Employment Amendment Act, 2021 was first announced in a press release November 18, nothing about COVID-19 was even mentioned.

Although the opening sentence mentioned “better and safer workplaces for employers and employees” the rest of the release concerned details about sexual harassment and union bargaining provisions.

Now the Labour Relations Board must exclude supervisors from the same bargaining unit as those they supervise, wherever possible. Sexual harassment at the workplace is now defined as any unwelcome action of a sexual nature, and provisions of the act extend beyond employees to include independent contractors, students, and volunteers.

“The legislation that governs our employers and employees needs to address the challenges of the modern work environment, including protecting vulnerable workers,” Morgan wrote in the release. “These amendments will help us build a stronger, safer and healthier Saskatchewan.”

fact sheet the release linked to concluded with a brief mention of COVID-19.

“We are introducing a provision that will provide protection for public and private sector employers that comply with the new COVID-19 vaccination regulations. These regulations give the employee the choice of showing evidence of being fully vaccinated or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test at least every seven days.”

The release bragged Saskatchewan was one of only five jurisdictions with such extensive sexual harassment protections, but after the legislation was passed, Morgan defended the COVID-19 provisions as being common.

“That’s being done generally across North America,” Morgan said.

The same day Morgan made his comments, a post on the Freedom Alliance Facebook page suggested a strong desire for legal recourse alongside skepticism, and an apparent unawareness of the new provincial law.

“Does anyone here know of any lawyers in Saskatoon that believe in the same rights and freedom as we do? I believe it’s time to really do something about losing my source of income 

“The couple lawyers I did speak with basically said the pandemic supersedes all our rights! Would be great if we found a lawyer that called out the BS! Might have to source out to other provinces,” replied Michielle Ross Noble.

“At the mine I work at they had a lawyer go to bat and it seems to be that the government is above the law and beyond the constitution. Money talks louder than laws these days,” replied Garrick Bernard.

“I also live near Saskatoon,” replied Ron Chappell. “Good luck finding a lawyer that will stand up for your rights and freedoms. Seems these evils are above the law including the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. There should be lawsuits going on everywhere. Either we don’t hear about them or they are not happening. Justin Trudeau is [a] tyrant.”

To this Funk made what proved to be a moot reply.

“Then a group of us should band together and file lawsuits! Who’s with me?”

Harding is a reporter based in Saskatchewan

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Maverick leader describes his perfect successor

“I am aware of three or four people who are seriously considering running for leadership,” interim leader Jay Hill told the Western Standard.

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Jay Hill, interim leader of the federal Maverick Party, says he hopes for a candidate for his replacement is someone that can “move the provinces and premiers towards greater autonomy for the West.”

On Wednesday, the Maverick Party released the rules for its leadership race that will see a new leader elected May 14, 2022.

The party will officially be accepting leadership applications as early as January 3 with a deadline of April 30.

Hill says he hopes to see two to six candidates apply.

“I am aware of three or four people who are seriously considering running for leadership,” Hill told the Western Standard.

“We’re more so focused on the quality side of things rather than quantity.”

The Maverick Party, formerly known as Wexit Canada, advocates for greater autonomy for Western Canadian provinces including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the three territories.

“I’d like to see someone with the right vision and oratory skills to communicate with passion for Western Canadians,” said Hill.

Hill pointed to Quebec’s position within Canada and said the Maverick Party supports moving the western provinces in that direction.

Included in the list of rules for those interested in throwing their hat into the leadership race is a registration fee set at $10,000.

“Our governing council really struggled with that fee,” said Hill, who indicated the registration fee is still “substantially less” than any of the other federal parties.  

“We were really aiming for the right balance — that sweet spot — where you want to be realistic and make it doable and not a deterrent.

“It’s efficient to get serious contenders with serious commitment to register and not those with frivolous reasons.”

Hill, the former House leader for the Conservative Party of Canada, said he’s “too old” to run the party moving forward.

“My roll in elected office is done,” said Hill, adding he was done with the “high stress and high drama” when he quit federal politics in the fall of 2010.

When a new leader is elected in May, Hill plans to stay on and assist the party “depending on the needs of the new leader and how he or she feels I can contribute the most.”

Hill said he is excited and is looking forward to “a good, credible and lively leadership race.”

Melanie Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Maverick Party petition calls for carbon tax break for Canadians

Canadians will soon have to choose between food on their tables or heat in their homes,” the petition reads.

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The Maverick Party, with a newly launched petition, is calling on the federal government to suspend the collection of carbon taxes from Canadians from January 1 to April 1, 2022.

Carbon tax is a levy imposed on human activity that results in carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere, usually by the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline, natural gas and coal.

The petition notes although carbon taxes are designed to “change behaviour,” the rising costs of living are an “added extra burden” on taxpayers.  

The petition also says the party “understands that the cost of living is increasing at a pace that families can’t keep up with,” pointing to “skyrocketing” inflation and the cost of essential items rising.

“Many Canadians will soon have to choose between food on their tables or heat in their homes,” the petition reads.

“The federal government can alleviate some of the burden by declaring a carbon tax moratorium on New Year’s Day 2022.”

The Maverick Party is demanding the government give Canadians who are “drowning financially” a break to get through what will likely be “the most expensive winter in memory,”

The Trudeau government implemented the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act in 2019 that was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in March of this year.

“Putting a price on carbon pollution is widely recognized as the most efficient means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also driving innovation,” the Government of Canada states on its website.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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