BC Human Rights Tribunal (Canadian Press)

HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL

Transgender woman’s human rights complaint against B.C. spa revisited

Complainant, known only as JY, withdrew it. Respondents applied to have it re-opened

A human rights complaint that was dropped by a transgender person who accused a Surrey spa of denying her a brazilian wax job is back in the news.

The matter made national headlines last August after a complainant known only as JY accused Mint Tanning Lounge, Shelah Poyer and Jeremy Paradis of discrimination.

“She alleged that the respondents discriminated against her based on her gender identity in connection with her request for waxing services,” Tribunal member Devyn Cousineau noted in her reasons for decision, on the application to reopen the complaint and award costs.

But JY later withdrew the complaint.

The respondents took issue with this, claiming they had intended to mount a “vigorous defence.”

“I have granted the application to reopen the complaint and denied the application for costs,” Cousineau decided.

“The individual respondents have not persuaded me that JY has engaged in conduct that has had a significant impact on the integrity of the Tribunal’s process,” she said, or a “significant prejudicial impact on another party.”

JY filed 14 similar complaints against other waxing service providers at about the same time this one was filed in March 2018. Cousineau noted that three cases are proceeding through the “regular process,” while the 11 others are in abeyance pending resolution of these.

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The tribunal member had made an interim order restricting publication of the complainant’s name. “The basis for this order was JY’s claim that publishing details of her gender identity could negatively impact her business,” Cousineau explained.

“The basis for the application was her assertion: ‘I am in the public eye and my company revolves around my name, I am heavily searched online and I don’t want this case…to appear in any search results.”

JY added, “I have developed an extremely high social media following…I do fear retaliation.”

After Cousineau made the order, Power and Paradis hired a lawyer — Jay Cameron, of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom — and applied to have it lifted, Cousineau noted, “on the basis that JY in fact already had a very public online presence as a transgender woman.”

The Mint Tanning Lounge was on Highway 10 until it closed on March 1, 2018 to merge with Sienna Spa, at #510 15355 24 Ave. in South Surrey.

The respondents argued JY “acted improperly by misleading the Tribunal in respect of her application for a publication ban; and filing, and then withdrawing, a vexatious complaint.”

But Cousineau found “simply no evidence” that JY’s complaint was frivolous, vexatious, egregious or false.

She reasoned, though, that the respondents to JY’s other complaints have an interest in following the progress and outcome of the other similar complaints.

“This cannot happen if (JY’s) name is not associated with the complaints. Depending on my ultimate findings in respect of this complaint, there may — or may not — be a public interest in publishing (JY’s) name.”

Cousineau also noted JY “does not provide any evidence to explain the apparent inconsistencies between the basis on which she sought a publication ban and her public profile on the internet.”

In September, three days after JY withdrew the complaint, the JCCF posted an update on the matter on its website, under the heading, “Victory for BC aesthetician who faced human rights complaint for refusal to perform waxing service on transwoman,” referred to JY as having “intact male genitalia” and called the withdrawal of the complaint a “vindication” for the respondents.

As for the publication restriction order shielding JY’s, identity, Cousineau had the following to say.

“The individual respondents complain that JY’s identity was protected in connection with this proceeding and theirs was not. They argue, without evidence, that the complaint has caused their personal and corporate reputation to be ‘wrongfully tarnished.’ Assuming this is true,” she said, “does not reveal any improper conduct by JY. She is permitted to file a complaint under the Code. The individual respondents had the same right that she did to apply for an order to limit publication of their names. They did not. This was not a decision that can be attributed in any way to JY.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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