Several female employees are refusing to work at a Kicking Horse Mountain Resort business, over allegations of workplace harassment and an unsafe workplace.
Three employees did not show up to their scheduled shifts on March 15, citing that they do not feel comfortable or safe while working.
The move comes after an internal investigation was launched into one of the managers at the resort. Several employees made allegations that they faced bullying and a toxic environment. The manager was removed for two weeks, before being reinstated to his position last Friday.
Amelia McLean, an employee at the resort who walked out on Monday, stated that at least twice the manager made unsolicited comments to her on her appearance, which she says constitutes sexual harassment, something she has expressed to upper management at the resort.
“Once, I was working, and he saw my pass hanging from my pocket and he took a good look, studied it for a second and said oh, you’re pretty hot. That was pretty early in the season and I remember going home and telling my boyfriend that I thought it was pretty weird, but I guess it’s kind of like a boys club,” said McLean.
“Another time I was just handing him something and he said ‘thanks, beautiful’, before backtracking and saying ‘thanks, employee’. So obviously he realized he had said something kind of strange and was trying to backpedal.”
The employee code of conduct at Kicking Horse defines workplace harassment as a single incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action that the person ought to reasonably know will cause offence or humiliation to a worker.
“I’ve witnessed a few of these incidents,” added another female Kicking Horse employee, who wished to remain anonymous.
“One time Amelia was wearing a shirt and made a comment that it was cold, and he looked her up and down and said ‘yeah, maybe if you put more clothes on’.
“It’s just comments like that, that are inappropriate in general, the way he speaks.”
She added that other employees have spoken to the manager concerning language used that has made multiple people uncomfortable throughout the season.
She was not scheduled to work on Monday, or she would have participated in the walk-out.
Both employees added that it’s not just the female staff.
“The boys feel it too, especially when he came back to work, they were all checking in with us to see how we are feeling,” added the unnamed employee.
The employee added that the alleged behaviour was not limited to being directed solely at female staff.
Chelsea Orme-Williams, another employee, spoke about her experience working with a medical condition, stating that she felt humiliated when the manager told her in front of other staff that she had to let people know where she was going and when she was going to the washroom.
“In certain situations, I don’t have time to tell people where I’m going and regardless, that’s my business,” she said.
“He singled me out, opened up by saying ‘I’m not singling you out’ and in that situation, I felt embarrassed and humiliated.”
While she was not a part of the walkout, she said she would have had she been scheduled to work.
All three pointed out that this kind of behaviour is in direct violation of the employee code of conduct, which states that “every RCR [Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which owns Kicking Horse Mountain Resort] employee is responsible and accountable for creating an organizational culture of respect by ensuring one’s behaviour is respectful and appropriate at all times and accepting responsibility for one’s actions.”
Disrespectful behaviour is defined by the code of conduct as comments, actions or gestures that are humiliating, offensive, hurtful or belittling.
All three employees said that they raised their concerns with human resources at the resort during the initial investigation and were shocked when they were abruptly informed that he would be returning to work, following a meeting and a planned apology. The three employees said that they had not heard from HR throughout the process, apart from being informed he would be returning.
In the meeting, at least one other employee walked out.
“We should not have been asked as employees to be in that meeting at 8 a.m. before work, following everyone’s concerns, people’s attitudes, the allegations, I do not consider this a safe work environment,” said Orme-Williams.
“To be forced to stand in a room with a man that has bullied you sexually harassed others, been inappropriate in his behaviour, I find that extremely difficult. I’m not surprised that people have walked out.”
All three have said that they would like to continue to work at the resort.
“The health, safety and well-being of our staff is the number one priority, we treat all incidents with care and the process is ongoing,” read a statement from the resort.
Kicking Horse declined to comment further on the situation, citing that the investigation was ongoing.
None of the allegations have been brought before the RCMP.
Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.