Patrick Chieriro is a Kenyan refuge who came to Canada in 2004 and who was hired to work as a bookkeeper with the employer in 2007. He encountered several problems:
Three months after beginning work, two representatives of the employer (Mr Michetti and Mr Enzo Campoli) asked Mr Chieriro to co-sign a mortgage (they presented him only with the signature page). They assured him that it was only for one month, after which Mr. Michetti's brother would take over the mortgage. Even though the associates did not threaten to fire him if he did not sign, Mr. Chieriro felt Intimidated and signed, fearing that he would lose his job if he refused. One month later, the two men asked Mr. Chieriro to sign another document, which would "complete the process". Mr. Chieriro asked for but did not receive a copy of the document, which he believed was releasing him from the previous mortgage. In fact, he had just signed a second mortgage!. He began to receive notifications from the bank asking him for payments. Mr. Michetti asked him to lie to the bank about not having work. Finally, he received a statement of claim seeking recovering for default of the mortgage. He was eventually removed from the claim.
Mr. Chieriro was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. His request not to work a Friday evening shift, in order to respect his religious obligation not to work on the Sabbath, was refused. He was told "not to being religion to the place of work" (para 17). When asked about the contents of his sandwich one day, he was told that "if a religion teaches you not to eat pork, that is not a good religion to follow". Finally, when he asked Mr. Campoli whether a wedding had been religious or secular, he was told "everthing is religion, religion, religion to you". (19) A threatening message left by Mr. Michetti made allusion to Mr. Chieriro's religion in a degrading and angry manner.
Mr. Chieriro was promised a car as part of his employment contract. He made arrangements to buy a new car, but was told that he was to take over ownership of Mr. Michetti's daughter's 1995 BMW. He was given a written bill of sale (no money exchanged hands) and he registered the car in his name. A threatening message left by Mr. Michetti stated that Mr. Chieriro owed $9000 for the car and that he was to pay or to lose the car.
When Mr. Chieriro began to question Mr. Michetti about the mortgage, his pay cheques began to decrease and to bounce. He was told that they were deducting money for the car - however no one had ever discussed a deduction plan with him. By April 2009, he was overwhelmed with what he found to be an "unbearable work environment" (para23). "Fearful and ill" (para23) he stopped coming to work. He was not provided with a Record of Employment which delayed the process of receiving EI benefits (para24)
Mr. Chieriro made several allegations of derogatory comments made to him at work about his English. He brought into evidence a phone message left by Mr. Michetti which was threatening in tone. In this message, Mr. Michetti claims that Mr. Chieriro quit his job (so didn't deserve EI), that he signed the mortgage and was therefore liable, and that he owed him $9000 for the car. He made a series of derogatory comments, referring to Mr. Chieriro as "a black bastard" "a fucking religious man", about not being in "Africa" but in Canada. Mr. Chieriro testified that he had to call the police on Mr Michetti when he showed up at his apartment. This increased the feelings of fear and intimidation that had driven him to stay away from work (para 26-28)
Did Mr. Michetti discriminate against Mr Chieriro?
The respondents did not provide a response or show up to the hearing. The Tribunal, therefore, heard the evidence of the complainant and made a finding of prima facie discrimination.
The Chair found that the respondent discriminated against the respondents on the grounds of religion (refusal to accommodate, derogatory comments), race/ancestry/place of origin (derogatory comment), and colour (derogatory comments).
He also found that the respondents took advantage of a new Canadian in six ways which amount to prima facie discrimination:
$20,000 in general damages
$1,350 in pre-termination wage loss
$10,500 in post-termination wage loss