By Tom Davis
Vegreville, Alberta -- December 13, 2017 -- A bodyshop that was found guilty of refusing to hire a gay, Indigenous, prospective employee and ordered to pay $56,000 in damages, has decided to fight the tribunal's order.
In October, tribunal Chair Karen Scott found Vegreville Autobody guilty of violating the Alberta Human Rights Act when the company refused to hire Rambo Landry for an office assistant position. "I find that Mr. Landry's race, sexual orientation and marital status were factors in the respondent's decision not to hire him," wrote Scott in her decision. "Accordingly, I award the complainant $20,000 as general damages for loss of dignity as well as $36,000 for lost wages, plus interest."
The decision came after Myron Hayduk—one of the shop's co-owners and Vegreville's mayor at the time—conducted a 75-minute interview with Landry where Hayduk discussed religion, marriage, race, sexual orientation and other matters unrelated to the job.
On November 17, Vegreville Autobody launched an appeal of the decision, claiming the $56,000 payment is “unjustified and unreasonable given the limited interaction between Mr. Landry and Myron Hayduk and the unlikelihood [that] serious emotional and psychological damage would result from a 1.25 hour conversation,” according to a new report from CBC News.
Landry said he fell into a deep depression after the 2014 interview that made his grades slip at school and put strains on his marriage.
A judge wrote on December 11 that the appeal had been approved. However, appeals to any decisions made by the Court of Queen's Bench normally need to be filed within 30 days of the decision. A spokesperson from the Alberta Human Rights Commission told CBC News that Mr. Landry received the appeal on time, but the commission, which made the original decision, did not.
Landry previously testified that Hayduk told him he did not believe in political correctness, that straight people are bullied into accepting gay people and the tide would turn against them. He also testified that Hayduk told him "natives" are in the minority in Vegreville and that Hayduk also queried his belief in God.
Hayduk denied making the anti-gay remarks that Landry described. He said the comments about Indigenous people were taken out of context and that he could not say for sure whether he asked Landry about religion. The job went to a woman Hayduk said was “more qualified.”
At the time of publication both Hayduk and Landry could not be reached for comment.