Burnaby Safeway worker’s sexual ‘dad joke’ leads to human rights complaint

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint from a customer who said an employee at a Burnaby Safeway told her an inappropriate joke.

Brianne Duke alleges she was shopping at the Kensington Square store in mid-October 2017 when she was approached by an employee who said to her: “I have inappropriate dad jokes to tell you.”

Duke alleged that the employee told her some sexually suggestive jokes.

Soon after, Sobeys, which owns Safeway, received a letter from Duke’s representative.

She called the incident inappropriate and unprofessional and asked for a $250 gift card and a public apology on all Safeway social media accounts.

Sobeys said it immediately emailed the representative requesting details about the inappropriate joke for investigation purposes.

The next day, the representative sent a letter to Sobeys criticizing the email and provided a description of the employee.

Sobeys said it investigated the incident and met with an employee who confirmed that he had been a part of the joke.

According to Sobeys, the employee explained that he had been “cleaning and straightening the spice aisle, at which time he had asked a number of customers and other staff if he could tell them an inappropriate joke. If they agreed, he asked: ‘What did the prostitute say when they were late for an appointment? I’m cumin,’” a reference to the spice cumin.

The employee acknowledged that the joke was inappropriate.

Following the investigation, the employee was disciplined for inappropriate conduct.

Within two weeks, Sobeys sent Duke a gift card and issued an apology.

After receiving the card and an apology, Duke told Sobeys she didn’t feel comfortable shopping there and filed a human rights complaint, alleging the employee’s behaviour “amounts to discrimination on the basis of sex.”

In a Dec. 11 ruling, the tribunal dismissed the complaint, saying Sobeys appeared to have dealt with Duke’s complaint as soon as possible with a view to resolve the issue.

The extent of the discipline to the employee is not clear.

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