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Tribunal rules in favour of gay Indigenous man rejected for Alberta auto shop job

November 01, 2017 - 1:27 PM

VEGREVILLE, Alta. - A gay First Nations man who was turned down for a job at an autobody shop east of Edmonton has been awarded $56,000 in damages and lost wages by a human rights tribunal.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission said in a written decision last month that Rambo Landry applied for an administrative job at Vegreville Autobody Ltd. about a year after he and his husband, an RCMP staff sergeant, moved to the area from the Northwest Territories.

Myron Hayduk — a co-owner of the shop who was Vegreville's mayor at the time — conducted a 75-minute interview with Landry, the tribunal heard.

Landry testified that Hayduk spent an estimated 80 per cent of that time discussing religion, marriage, race, sexual orientation and other matters unrelated to the job.

"I find that Mr. Landry's race, sexual orientation and marital status were factors in the respondent's decision not to hire him," tribunal chair Karen Scott wrote in the Oct. 17 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."

Hayduk said he has been advised by his lawyers not to comment on the decision. Landry did not immediately respond to an interview request.

In her decision, Scott wrote that the interview started off with a routine question about why Landry wanted to work there, but then took a strange turn when he was asked what he would do if a customer had an issue with his sexual orientation.

Hayduk told the tribunal that he recalled asking how Landry would deal with an irate customer, but does not recall any mention of him being gay.

Landry also 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.

Landry, who is Dene, also described Hayduk telling him "natives" are in the minority in Vegreville and that he was also queried on his belief in God.

"Mr. Landry describes being quite upset by these questions, stating that he felt as if he was being 'put in a box that was getting smaller and smaller,'" Scott wrote.

In his testimony, Hayduk admitted saying he does not agree with political correctness, but denied making the anti-gay remarks Landry described.

He said the comments about Indigenous people were taken out of context and could not say for sure whether he asked about religion.

The job went to a woman who Hayduk said was more qualified. He said he did not recall discussing race, religion or sexual orientation with her in the interview.

"He stated simply: 'She looks whiter than me,'" Scott wrote, adding Hayduk testified he is of Ukrainian heritage.

Landry testified that following the interview, he became depressed, anxious and withdrawn and that it put a strain on his marriage. He said he and his husband went 45 minutes out of their way to run errands because they were not comfortable in Vegreville.

"He felt as if he was being punished for being who he was."

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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