The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has awarded an employee who was sexually assaulted while working aboard a cruise ship a sum of more than $33,000.
The decision, made by tribunal member Emily Ohler, lauded the employee, Christopher Ban, for his courage in stepping forward.
At the time, Ban worked for a B.C.-based company that installed carpets on cruise ships. He was assigned to a team of workers who would live on cruise ships while installing the carpeting.
In court documents, Ban alleged to the tribunal that his manager, Brant MacMillan, sexually assaulted him while the cruise ship was docked in Nicaragua on Feb. 8, 2019.
Ban told the tribunal that he had a night shift to work that day, so after he and a coworker went to lunch, he returned back to his room and took a nap. He shared the room with another worker but that man was gone, and so he was able to take an undisturbed nap.
The documents state that Ban was sleeping when he felt someone touching him in a sexual way. When the actions intensified, “it clicked for him what was happening.
“It was Mr. MacMillan, who had let himself into his room, got into bed with him, and woken him up with the touching,” documents state.
Ban then “jumped up and said no,” took photos of MacMillan in his bed and went to tell his coworker what had happened to him.
He then reentered his room, expecting MacMillan to be gone, but found him still there. Ban said he “jumped on top of Mr. MacMillan shouting, asking what he was doing, what he was thinking, before throwing him and his belongings out of the room.”
Ban said he then called the company, and reported the incident to security. He said the owner of the company said “I don’t know what to tell you,” and told him to stay in his room and not work for the remainder of his time on the ship.
“In the meantime, Mr. MacMillan was able to continue to move freely about the ship for the next three days as they sailed back,” documents state.
When Ban returned to shore, he was worried he could no longer work in the carpeting industry because everything reminded him of the incident. He was able to work with WorkSafeBC to receive counselling and was diagnosed with PTSD.
While the company terminated MacMillan’s employment, and asked Ban if he would return, he did not feel able to work for the company because of his assault.
In her decision, Ohler wrote that “it is unquestionable that the incident was sexual in nature. I also have no difficulty finding that Mr. MacMillan’s conduct was unwelcome.”
MacMillan did not testify at the tribunal.
Ohler found that MacMillan discriminated against Ban on the basis of sex, in contravention of the Human Rights Code.
Ohler ordered MacMillan to pay Ban $8,333 in lost wages and $25,000 for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”