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A BC Server Wins $30K Ruling After Being Fired For Asking Staff To Use Correct Pronouns

A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found Jessie Nelson was discriminated against.

Western Canada Editor
A BC Server Wins $30,000 Ruling After Being Fired For Asking Staff To Use Correct Pronouns

A ruling this week found that a B.C. restaurant was guilty of discrimination after a server was fired for asking staff to use they/them pronouns.

Jessie Nelson, a non-binary, gender fluid, transgender person, started working at an Italian restaurant on the Sunshine Coast, called Buono Osteriain, in May 2019.

Since they started working at the restaurant, Nelson asked all staff to use their proper pronouns. While most staff were respectful of this, the bar manager Brian Gobelle failed to do so.

The ruling issued by tribunal member Devyn Cousineau reads that Gobelle "persistently referred to Jessie Nelson with she/her pronouns and with gendered nicknames like 'sweetheart', 'honey', and 'pinky'. Jessie Nelson asked Mr. Gobelle to stop, and he did not."

The nicknames, traditionally used for women and femme people, "specifically undermined and erased Jessie Nelson's gender identity."

With no response after seeking help from management, a discussion between Nelson and Gobelle became heated. Four days later they were fired, with management telling Nelson "that they had simply come on 'too strong too fast' and were too 'militant'," the ruling notes.*

The ruling added: "Mr. Gobelle testified that he may have called Jessie Nelson 'pinky' because they had pink hair at the time. He does not recall Jessie Nelson asking him to stop. He does not recall using other nicknames."

Now, two and a half years since the incident, Nelson was awarded $30,000. In addition to this, the restaurant had to implement a pronoun policy and mandatory training about human rights law.

*This article has been updated.

    Morgan Leet
    Western Canada Editor
    Morgan Leet is the Western Canada Editor for Narcity Canada's Western Desk focused on interprovincial travel, and is based in Vancouver.
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