North Okanagan cashier says boss offered $2K for sex | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan cashier says boss offered $2K for sex

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November 04, 2020 - 7:00 AM

A former North Okanagan business owner who allegedly offered an employee $2,000 to have sex with him has lost the first stage in a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The complainant in the case says she was fired shortly afterwards while the business owner maintains the employee was let go because she was rude to customers and the situation was largely a misunderstanding due to cultural differences between Korean and Canadian culture.

According to the Oct. 30 B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision, the events date back to 2017 when Wooyoung Joung, who goes by the name Kai or Aiden, owned the Deep Creek General Store in Armstrong along with his wife.

The respondent, Kiyahna Smith, worked as a cashier for the couple at the store and claims she was unfairly dismissed after Joung sexually harassed her and created a hostile work environment.

It's not clear when, but Joung and his wife no longer own the Deep Creek General Store.

The decision says both parties have completely different versions of what happened.

Smith alleges in August of 2017 Joung offered her $100 to have lunch with him. Smith said she was confused by the gesture, refused the money, but went for lunch with her boss nonetheless.

Joung says in Korean culture it is common to show appreciation towards employees by taking them out for lunch or giving them small gifts.

On the drive back from lunch, Smith alleges Joung offered her $2,000 to have sex with him. She refused the gesture.

Joung denies offering Smith money for sex and says he told her, "lunch is worth more than $100. It was worth $1,000 or $2,000." Joung denies there was any sexual connotation in his statement.

In an affidavit filed by a co-worker, 'Ms. H' said Joung had told her it was not uncommon in Korea for a married man to pay a woman to go out for lunch and then have sex if they were both OK with it.

"Ms. H told Mr. Joung that was not appropriate in Canada," says the decision.

The decision says Smith "felt" Joung wanted to bring up the incident but didn't, while Joung says he tried to bring up the "misunderstanding" but Smith refused to speak about it, so he dropped the matter.

Shortly afterward, Joung cut Smith's hours.

Smith says Joung falsely accused her of having another job which interfered with the store job and of stealing.

In September 2017, Joung gave Smith a termination letter citing among other issues her "insincere work behaviour."

Joung alleges Smith was rude to customers and his family, mocked his accent and made inappropriate comments and jokes, and pretended to vomit when he and his family ate Korean food.

The decision says that although Joung had fired Smith, there were subsequent text messages between them and Smith did return to work. The shift didn't go well and Smith accused Joung of yelling and belittling her in front of a customer. She left and never returned.

Joung applied to the Tribunal to dismiss the case, arguing it had no reasonable prospect of success. However, the Tribunal rejected the appeal.

"There is no dispute that Mr. Joung offered Ms. Smith $100 to have lunch and made a comment about $2,000. However, there is a dispute about what Mr. Joung actually said," Tribunal member Grace Chen said in the decision. "I simply cannot resolve the matter based on parties’ affidavit evidence. This matter must go to a hearing so that both parties’ evidence can be tested on cross-examination and I can make a finding of fact about what Mr. Joung said."

The Tribunal member says she's "not persuaded" by Joung's argument that the complaint is due to a misunderstanding of his Korean culture and limited English.

"Mr. Joung’s reasons for why his culture or language barrier may have impacted what transpired needs to be properly canvassed at a hearing," she said.

The case will now go to a hearing if the two parties are not able to resolve the matter with the Tribunal’s mediation services.

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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