Adventure company discriminated against Christian job applicant, must pay $8,500: B.C. rights tribunal
VANCOUVER — A mysterious wilderness adventure tour company discriminated against a job applicant because of her Christian faith and must pay $8,500 for injuring her “dignity and self respect,” the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled Wednesday.
Bethany Paquette launched her human rights complaint after receiving a string of vitriolic responses to a job application she sent Victoria-based Amaruk Wilderness Corp. two years ago, in a case that made headlines around the world.
Amaruk offered on its now-defunct website “assistant guide internship” positions. It also claimed annual revenues exceeding $10 million, access to military-grade aircraft and more than 200 employees around the world. Inexplicably, the Amaruk website featured photos of bare-chested young men posing outdoors and grappling in Viking-themed settings.
The company’s CEO was Christophe Fragassi, also known as Christopher Fragassi-Bjornsen. A native of France who lives near Victoria with a male partner, Fragassi is a “Walter Mitty-type character,” his former landlord told the National Post.
With a number of purported Amaruk colleagues based in Norway, Fragassi rejected Paquette’s 2014 job application, according to documents filed at the tribunal. In emails accompanying the rejection notice, Amaruk slammed Paquette’s Christian background and education; Paquette had noted in her job application that she was a graduate of Trinity Western University, a private Christian institution near Vancouver.
“Graduates from Trinity Western University are not welcome in our company,” read an email Paquette received from an Amaruk executive, identified as “Olaf Amundsen.”
“God bless is very offensive to me,” the same purported Amaruk official wrote to her later. “I do not want to be blessed by some guy who was conceived by a whore, outside of marriage … If I was to meet the guy, I’d actually f— him.”
Paquette told the tribunal that Fragassi “was clearly the directing mind of the company” and “should be held personally liable” for the discriminatory emails.
In a response, Fragassi said Amaruk is no longer active in Canada, and therefore the tribunal has no jurisdiction over it. He also denied having discriminated against Paquette.
Fragassi appeared at a hearing inside the tribunal’s Vancouver headquarters in November. He quickly declared the process a sham and stormed out. “Try to get any money from me,” he snapped at Paquette as he left the hearing room.
Tribunal member Norman Trerise ruled Wednesday that “both Amaruk, through its employee’s actions, and Mr. Fragassi-Bjornsen have discriminated against Ms. Paquette on the ground of religion by harassing her for presumed religious beliefs and declining to accept her application for an internship, in part because of those beliefs.”
Along with the $8,500 Fragassi was ordered to pay Paquette for her injuries, he must compensate her $661 in tribunal-related expenses.
Fragassi could not be reached for comment Wednesday. As for Paquette, she’s “in the far north running dog sled tours this winter — the very kind of work that Amaruk rejected her from,” said her lawyer, Geoffery Trotter. “Today’s decision is a victory for Bethany and for equal treatment for everyone, regardless of their beliefs or background.”http://news.nationalpost.com/news/adventure-company-discriminated-against-christian-job-applicant-must-pay-8500-b-c-rights-tribunal