British Columbia

B.C. Conservative Party leader faces criticism after workplace discrimination case resurfaces

The B.C. Liberal Party has drawn attention to a 2018 case of workplace discrimination involving the leader of the BC Conservatives.

WorkSafeBC report from 2018 ruled Trevor Bolin’s business did not take sexual harassment complaint seriously

B.C. Conservative Party leader Trevor Bolin's handling of a 2018 workplace discrimination case has garnered the attention of the B.C. Liberals (Trevor Bolin/Facebook)

The B.C. Liberal Party has drawn attention to a 2018 case of workplace discrimination involving the leader of the B.C. Conservatives.

In a statement, the Liberals called on Conservative Leader Trevor Bolin to publicly address why he "minimized the sexual harassment" of a female employee by a supervisor at one of his Burger King restaurants and punished her when she complained about it.

According to a July 2018 report from WorkSafeBC, the incident pertains to a worker who filed a discriminatory action complaint in Feb. 2018 after she says she was sexually harassed and then fired weeks later. 

Bolin issued a response to the charge from the B.C. Liberals accusing them of carrying out a smear campaign.

"It is unfortunate that with the political fortunes of the B.C. Liberals collapsing, that they have chosen to turn their focus on an event that was already hard enough for the families involved," Bolin said in a statement of his own. 

Worker propositioned by supervisor

The complaint begins with a long-time worker at Bolin's Fort St. John restaurant, who says she was approached by her supervisor "who vulgarly stated that he wanted to have sex with her." 

She says the supervisor previously told her he would pay her for sex.

Two days later, the worker says she submitted an incident report to her employer detailing the sexual harassment. 

"If I had not put in the incident report and had witnesses, I think he would have kept on until one day he made good on his suggestions and attacked me," she told the adjudicator.

After two weeks, she met with Bolin to discuss the incident. She requested the supervisor be moved to a different shift, but Bolin instead offered her a later shift. Feeling he did not take her concern seriously she then reached out to the RCMP. 

"The failure of my meeting with [Bolin] left me feeling completely unprotected and that nothing would be done," she said. 

A week later, according to the report, she had a meeting with Bolin where she was fired due to "disrespectful and uncooperative behavior." Bolin specifically cited an outburst at work when she shouted at a manager and requested that he deal with her complaint. 

Bolin argued that this behaviour sparked the worker's termination, as opposed to the bullying and harassment she reported at work. 

"At no point in time was she ever not a victim, and that's not why she was let go," Bolin said in a phone interview Saturday. 

The adjudicator cited several letters written by co-workers which spoke to the worker's exemplary performance. 

He inferred Bolin did not take the worker's sexual harassment complaint seriously and Bolin's motivations for firing her had a causal connection to her complaint. 

The worker's complaint was accepted and due to the wrongful dismissal Bolin says he provided the worker with financial compensation, an apology letter and a reference letter.  

The Conservative Leader says the supervisor that initiated the harassment was written up, had to complete several courses and was placed under supervision at work. 

Reflecting back on the incident, Bolin now says he would have handled it differently. 

Since then he says he has implemented an open door policy where employees can report any concerns to any manager or himself without fear of repercussions.

Bolin is running in the riding of Peace River North against the B.C. Liberals' Dan Davies, and B.C. NDP candidate Danielle Monroe.