The Safeway in Burnaby where a sexual joke was told to customer Brianne Duke. (Google Maps)

Human rights complaint over ‘sexual dad joke’ at B.C. Safeway dismissed

Brianne Duke alleged Sobeys hadn’t dealt with her complaint properly

An escalating human rights complaint against a Burnaby Safeway involving a “sexual dad joke” has been dismissed.

In a decision released last week, tribunal member Catherine McCreary dismissed a complaint against the Safeway that involved an incident in October 2017.

Brianne Duke told the tribunal she had been shopping whens she was approached by an employee who claimed he had “inappropriate dad jokes” to tell her.

One of the jokes, Duke said, was: “What does a late prostitute say? I’m cumin!”

Duke alleged the employee told her other sexual jokes, but did not provide the tribunal with details.

A representative of Duke sent Safeway’s parent company, Sobeys, a letter about the “inappropriate and unprofessional” incident and asked for a $250 gift card and a public apology on all Safeway Canada social media accounts.

According to the decision, Sobeys spoke with two employees, one of whom acknowledged he had been involved.

He said he had been cleaning the spice aisle while asking customers if they wanted to hear an inappropriate joke and told the sex worker joke to those who agreed.

The employee acknowledged the joke was inappropriate, but said it was the only sexual joke he told Duke.

Sobeys disciplined the employee and sent Duke a $250 gift card, as well as an apology.

A few days later, Duke emailed Sobeys asking how the employee had been disciplined and if he was still working with the company, saying it would help her decide if she would keep shopping at the store or go elsewhere.

She was not told how or if the staffer had been disciplined, and “assumed that no discipline had occurred.”

She filed her complaint the same day.

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McCreary said there was nothing to suggest discipline hadn’t been sufficient or hadn’t taken place.

She said Sobeys had properly addressed the issue, and allowing Duke’s complaint to proceed would not advance the purposes of the human rights code.

“I am struck by the priority that Sobeys gave to the complaint. It immediately investigated and found the facts alleged by Ms. Duke to have occurred,” she wrote.

“While it claims for the purposes of this matter that the events do not amount to discrimination under the Code, Sobey’s [sic] nonetheless gave Ms. Duke what she asked for; a gift card and an apology.”

In a statement emailed to Black Press Media on Tuesday, Duke said she is pleased the tribunal at least recognized the employee’s conduct as sexual harassment, and that Sobeys and the employee have sent her additional apologies.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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