NEW GLASGOW – A decision by an independent human rights board of inquiry has found that a former employee of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission (NSLC) who worked in Pictou County was discriminated against based on her sex (gender and/or pregnancy) and her disability.
Pearl Kelly worked with the NSLC from 1994 until she went off on long-term disability in 2009. In 2005, after years of positive performance appraisals, Kelly felt that her sex, pregnancy and mental disability played a role in differential treatment and discrimination. In her decision, board chair Lynn Connors describes evidence of a sexist attitude in a male dominated managerial work environment which included inappropriate comments, nicknames and allusions to preferential treatment due to her sex when in fact the opposite proved to be true. Connors has reserved her decision on damages and/or remedy so that the parties can provide submissions on what would be appropriate.
Kelly’s lawyer, Barry Mason, said in his opening statement at the inquiry in 2013 that Kelly heard sexist comments regarding her being pregnant and going on maternity leave during her time with the NSLC from co-workers and a supervisor. He said she was treated unfairly as a female manager within the corporation compared to male managers at other stores, including the fact that she only had an assistant manager for 26 weeks out of the 250 weeks that she worked as a manager in the class four category, the category for the largest stores within the liquor corporation, while male managers of equal status received “better treatment.”
“She was referred to, because she has three children, and was on maternity leave for a period while at the NSLC, as ‘Pregnant Pearl’ in Pictou, those comments were made with derision and were truly belittling and upsetting to Mrs. Kelly,” Mason said.
Mason also said Kelly was discriminated against on the basis of gender because she was not offered an interview for the regional manager position, which a man received. “Differential treatment because she is a woman. Sexist comments because she is a woman. She was belittled and when she raised these issues, they were not addressed,” Mason said.
Mason said the NSLC also discriminated against Kelly on the basis of disability. In 2008, Kelly was diagnosed with situation anxiety disorder and had to go on sick leave from her management job at NSLC as a result.
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