A North Okanagan woman has been awarded close to $100,000 after she was sexually harassed by her former employer, who then then retaliated when she filed a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
According to the tribunal’s decision on Nov. 24, Wooyoung Joung offered the complainant $2,000 for sex while she was working for him at the Deep Creek General Store in Armstrong, which is no longer owned by Joung.
The complainant, referred to as Ms. K, alleged that Joung sexually harassed her, created a hostile work environment and terminated her employment after she refused his offer.
Joung, who goes by the name Kai or Aiden, is originally from Korea and argued that the complaint was based on a misunderstanding, as he has “very limited” communication skills in English and was confused by the differences between Canadian and Korean culture.
However, his defence was dismissed by tribunal member Amber Prince, who called the case “an example of the longstanding problem of sexual harassment in Canada.”
Ms. K was 21-years-old when she was hired at the general store in 2017. Joung was in his 40s at the time, according to the decision.
In August 2017, Joung offered Ms. K $100 to go to lunch with him. She refused the money initially but agree to go to lunch. It was on the drive back from lunch that Joung offered her $2,000 to have sex with him. Ms. K was shocked by the proposition and didn’t respond right away, the decision notes. She testified that Joung got mad about her lack of response before backtracking his comments.
Prince said Ms. K felt “shocked, insulted, disgusted, and sick to her stomach. She was not sure how or why she was in this uncomfortable situation. In her words, she was also ‘quite scared’ about what might happen next.”
In the weeks following Joung’s advance, Ms. K began receiving complaints about her work performance. She had her hours cut, and Joung falsely accused her of having another job that was interfering with her job at the general store. He also falsely accused her of stealing. On Sept. 28, 2017, Joung fired Ms. K.
Ms. K filed a human rights complaint on Nov. 3, 2017. Shortly after, she and her sister noticed signs of repeated trespassing on their property. They purchased a surveillance camera and in March 2018 they captured an image of a man on their property at 1 a.m., and identified him as Joung.
Prince was direct in her criticism of Joung’s conduct.
“Ms. K was seriously and negatively impacted when Mr. Joung made sexualized comments to her, propositioned her for sex, made false allegations about her work performance, poisoned her workplace, fired her, and then trespassed at her home in the middle of the night,” Prince said in the decision.
The tribunal ordered Joung to pay Ms. K $53,903 as compensation for lost wages and $45,000 for injury to her dignity.