Metro Transit bus garage harassment victim seeking at least $1M in damages

A mechanic who was the victim of workplace harassment and racism at a Metro Transit bus garage is seeking at least $1 million in damages for the psychological damage the incidents have caused him.

'He has suffered very serious psychological injuries as a result of working in a poisonous work environment'

An independent Nova Scotia human rights board of inquiry looked into the complaints of the worker. (Robert Short/CBC News)

A mechanic who was the victim of workplace harassment and racism at a Metro Transit bus garage is seeking at least $1 million in damages for the psychological damage the incidents have caused him.

On Monday, a hearing took place at the Nova Scotia Securities Commission to discuss the awarding of damages.

An independent Nova Scotia human rights board of inquiry looked into the complaints of the man, whose name is protected by a publication ban and is referred to as Y.Z.

The incidents date back to 2000 and include verbal racial slurs, washroom graffiti, the vandalism of tools, assault and the use of a bus to terrorize Y.Z. by brushing by him.

Although the man is white, he's married to a black woman and has supported other employees of colour.

"He has suffered very serious psychological injuries as a result of working in a poisonous work environment," said Bruce Evans, the lawyer for Y.Z.

As a result of the incidents, Y.Z. has experienced PTSD, suicidal tendencies and depression.

What Y.Z. is looking for

As part of the compensation, Y.Z. is seeking $367,000 in general damages, which is the current maximum that can be awarded in Canada.

The supervisor who was the perpetrator of the behaviour toward Y.Z. is no longer employed by the city.

Rudolph Kingthorne, the lawyer representing the city, said that much has been done since the case of Y.Z. was investigated.

Metro Transit was the name of the Halifax's public transit agency until 2014, at which time it became Halifax Transit. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"HRM has been trying to move forward with training and programs," he said at the hearing.

Kingthorne said that the city is committed to offering training in cultural sensitivity, diversity and inclusion, and violence prevention to change the work culture.

In May, the city's CAO apologized for racist behaviour at Metro Transit, acknowledging that more needs to be done to prevent similar incidents.

Evans suggested that the board consider recommending Halifax Transit — which was known as Metro Transit until July 2014 — hire and train mechanics from different minority groups.

"I think it is very important all employers actually as a day-to-day thing build into their workplace and make sure the conduct is appropriate, so that it is not just a policy on the shelf," he said.

The final decision for the awarding of damages will be released sometime this summer.

About the Author

Aya Al-Hakim

Reporter

Aya Al-Hakim is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached at aya.al-hakim@cbc.ca.