A payday loan company has been ordered to pay one of its former employees $30,000 for failing to take her complaints about sexual harassment seriously.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal issued the ruling last week, saying Money Mart refused to properly investigate complaints about a manager at one of its Toronto stores.

The claim was filed by Marjorie Harriott, a Toronto woman who worked as a customer service representative at a Toronto Money Mart store from April 2007 until she was fired in June 2008.

Harriott told the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal she was sexually harassed by her manager while she worked at a Money Mart store on Danforth Avenue, in the city's east end.

She told the tribunal that her supervisor would leer at her buttocks and breasts, make inappropriate comments, and touch her when there was no need — adding that the harassment was so unbearable that she suffered from panic attacks while she worked there.

Harriott said she and several other women who worked at the store complained repeatedly to the district manager in 2007 and 2008, but the manager didn't investigate the complaints.

Kate Sellar, a Toronto human rights lawyer who represented Harriott, said the ruling against Money Mart is significant.

"What the tribunal is saying in this case is that you have to fully and fairly investigate when allegations come to your attention," Sellar said.

Company will update policy

Money Mart already has a sexual harassment policy in place but the company will now be required to update it to include a commitment to investigate complaints promptly.

The company will also have to spell out the consequences of inappropriate behaviour, and all of its Ontario-based managers will be required to go through sexual harassment training.

Money Mart president Larry Taylor said in a statement Wednesday that the company supports the tribunal's ruling.

"Money Mart has a strict zero-tolerance policy on all matters relating to discrimination and harassment in the workplace," he said.

Taylor said the company plans to implement all of the changes ordered by the tribunal, adding that the managers accused of sexual harassment in Harriott's case no longer work for Money Mart.