B.C. lawyer who sexually harassed staff gets suspended | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. lawyer who sexually harassed staff gets suspended

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A B.C. lawyer who was told by a member of his staff to "look with his eyes, not his hand" has been suspended for four-and-a-half months for sexual harassment.

According to a July 12 Law Society of B.C. decision, Rowan Mackenzie Davison had been practicing law for 30 years and ran his practice with his wife in Langley.

While the 66-year-old lawyer appeared to think he was being funny with his multiple sexualized jokes, his staff members didn't see it that way and launched complaints.

The Law Society found that Davison had engaged in sexual harassment of several employees and to have created a hostile work environment.

The decision says when Davison arrived at the office he would greet his staff with either a hug or a kiss, and regularly kissed employees on the forehead or cheek.

One employee complained and said she'd only accept hugs from the side.

He later tried to kiss the employee at a Christmas party and once massaged her shoulder although she tensed up and he stopped.

In one situation where the employee was attending a conference with Davison and his wife in Vernon he suggested the three of them get "one room together."

In another situation, he touched the employee's new jacket and she told him to "look with his eyes, not his hand."

The employee later complained to Davison and he apologized.

The incidents took place between 2018 and 2021.

READ MORE: B.C. lawyer conned $1M from mentally ill client

In one case Davison told his wife she was "looking hot" in front of other employees and in another case told an employee she had "bondage hair."

The decision says Davison talked about his sex life with his wife with employees at his firm, and mentioned that they were not having enough sex.

He tried to kiss an employee on the lips at a Christmas party and told her they would date if they'd known each other when he was younger.

He once asked an employee whether she was wearing a bra.

Along with the inappropriate sexual comments Davison also made a series of racist remarks.

The decision highlights some the conversations the lawyer had with the Law Society during the investigation, which gives a glimpse into his mindset.

The investigator points out that making comments about the colour of someone’s skin is inappropriate.

Davison replies, "One of the things that has also come out of this is I have to be much more private and discreet about conversation and behaviour that I do exhibit."

The investigator reminds the lawyer that it's not about privacy and discretion but that it's not OK to make jokes with any employees regarding the colour of their skin.

Davison asked if that also includes his own skin colour.

"In a professional office setting, commentary on the colour of people’s skin joking in a professional setting is inappropriate," the investigator says.

"OK," he replies.

Ultimately, the lawyer admitted that his actions were unacceptable.

"We find that (Davison's) conduct amounts to professional misconduct as it rises to the level of conduct that constitutes a marked departure from that conduct the Law Society expects of lawyers," the decision reads. "(Davison) made remarks and engaged in conduct of a sexual nature at the firm and also made remarks of a racist or discriminatory nature to several employees, which constitutes a marked departure from that conduct the Law Society expects of lawyers."

Davison was suspended for four and a half months and ordered to pay $3,500 costs.

READ MORE: B.C. lawyer banned from practising for 12 years after deceiving clients

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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