Safeway, Sobeys and UFCW Canada: STOP Supporting Sexual Harassment
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On the evening of Friday, October 13th, 2017, I was sexually harassed by a Safeway Canada employee at the Kensington Square location in Burnaby, British Columbia. The employee, Josh, found it acceptable to approach me, stop me from continuing my grocery shopping, and tell me what he called were "inappropriate dad jokes." However, the jokes were more than just inappropriate. They were downright vulgar. The "jokes" referenced sex, sexual acts, as well as male and female genitalia.
Bothered by the employee's obviously inappropriate conduct, I filed a complaint with Safeway. I initially received an e-mail response from Gary Davies, HR manager for Sobeys Inc. who asked that I provide video/audio proof of my encounter with the Safeway employee. The last thing that had crossed my mind was to pull out my camera and record what was happening. I told Mr. Davies that while I understood him wanting proof so that he could do a thorough investigation into the matter, I felt he was being insensitive and taking a victim-blaming approach.
A few days later I received an e-mail from Safeway store manager, Rick Macleod, who advised me that they conducted an investigation and were able to substantiate my allegations with the employee in question, and that the employee admitted to his conduct. Mr. Macleod then went on to say that "corrective action" had been taken against the employee, and that they would be sending me a $250 gift card as an apology for what occurred. I then e-mailed Mr. Macleod back asking for clarification on what type of "corrective action" had been taken, but he did not respond.
I then contacted Safeway's customer service department requesting clarification, and the following day I received a voice mail message from Ray Mattinson, the District Operator for Safeway. In his message, Mr. Mattinson stated that he would be able to answer all of my questions and put my concerns to rest. However, when I spoke to Mr. Mattinson the following day, he simply stated, "I cannot tell you anything." He also told me that if I felt uncomfortable with the employee, I should "go shop at a different Safeway." I was stunned. I should not have to go out of my way to shop at a different store. Instead, Safeway should be doing everything in their power to make the shopping experience as comfortable as possible for the customer!
As of October 23rd, I filed a sexual harassment complaint against Safeway Canada/Sobeys Inc. with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. That complaint was accepted by the BCHRT as of November 2nd, 2017, and I am now in the process of awaiting a settlement meeting.
Since my complaint, both Safeway and UFCW Canada have made a series of tweets about violence and harassment against women - which is, in my opinion, their attempt at doing damage control. They have no real remedies or solutions when dealing with sexual harassment and have done absolutely nothing to prevent what happened to me from happening in the future by continuing to employ the individual who committed and admitted to the sexual harassment.
It is my hope that creating this petition will not only shed light on sexual harassment even more-so, but bring about change to companies like Safeway and others who find it acceptable to stand by employees who engage in such inappropriate behaviours - even when they admit to such conduct. It is despicable and a disgrace. I also hope that this petition will give others strength to speak out if and when something like this ever happens to them.
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