Surrey grocery store ordered to pay $16,000 to ‘bullied’ employee

SURREY – A grocery store supervisor who claims his employer’s sons bullied him at work has been awarded $15,936 by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

Kyle Garneau worked at Buy-Rite Foods in Whalley and filed his complaint against Shingara Sumal, Sutej Sumal and Inder Sumal last September, alleging he was discriminated against under provisions of Section 13 of the Human Rights Code. The hearing was heard in April, in Vancouver. The respondents didn’t attend and Garneau was the only witness.

Tribunal member Parnesh Sharma found him to be "articulate, thoughtful and credible."

Sharma ordered the Sumals to pay Garneau $936 for lost wages and $15,000 "as compensation for injury to his dignity, feelings and self-respect."

Garneau testified the incidents occurred at the Buy-Rite grocery store at 9528 120th Street, operated by Shingara Sumal. The store has since closed.

Garneau was a supervisor and earned minimum wage. The tribunal heard his shifts were reduced as Sumal and his sons became increasingly involved in the business during a downturn.

Garneau testified he was called things like "faggot, fatty, idiot, retard, and f—ing stupid" by his bosses’ sons, Sutej and Inder.

"He says that Inder would harass him and constantly ask him in a parroting way ‘are you gay, are you gay, are you gay,’" Sharma noted in his reasons. "He says there was malice in the name-calling and that it occurred in front of employees and customers and made him feel ‘less than human.’"

Garneau testified that the comments were hurtful, frequent and unprovoked, and that he repeatedly told Sumal and his sons the name-calling was hurtful and offensive and asked them to stop.

But whenever he confronted them, he testified, he’d be laughed at and asked, mockingly, "What’re you gonna do about it?’"

Garneau claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but produced no medical reports to support this. He also said he became "very depressed and suicidal."

"I find Inder Sumal and Sutej Sumal largely responsible for discriminating against Mr. Garneau," Sharma decided. "I find Shingara Sumal, as the owner and operator of Buy-Rite, failed in his responsibility to ensure a harassment-free and safe work environment."

Shingara Sumal could not be reached for comment.

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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