$7,000 settlement for non-binary B.C. person scolded for using 'wrong' washroom ruled reasonable

Settlement ruled reasonable

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has ruled a $7,000 settlement offered by a casino to a non-binary person who was scolded by staff for using the "wrong" washroom was reasonable.

Christopher Iversen filed a complaint in March 2020 against Gateway Casinos, which operates 23 locations in Canada, alleging discrimination related to sex after an incident one year prior.

The city the incident occurred in was not revealed in the tribunal decision, which states Iversen was playing the slots at around 5:30 a.m. when they went to use the washroom.

The men’s was closed, so Iversen used the women’s washroom.

When Iversen returned to the slot machine, casino security approached and requested ID, which indicated a male sex.

That is where the stories of the casino and Iversen diverge.

Iversen claims the casino manager “ridiculed” them in a non-discreet manner and said it was against casino policy to have people using the “wrong” washroom. Iversen alleged the casino staff said transgendered people must “check in” at the casino entrance to use the “other” washroom. Iversen alleges he was asked to leave the casino.

The casino's version of events says security received a complaint that a man may have used the women’s washroom. Staff then approached Iversen, checked ID, and told them about a single, non-gendered washroom that was available. The casino claims Iversen said they had “the right” to use the women’s washroom.

Gateway says they asked to move the conversation to the casino lobby, where Iversen became “angry and agitated” and threatened to sue the casino and return with the media. The casino manager then ended the conversation, and Iversen stayed in the lobby for another 10-15 minutes taking notes and photos and asking for names, the casino alleges.

Gateway denies they ever asked Iversen to leave the casino and denies they ever said transgendered people must “check in” to use the washroom.

Iversen sent a complaint letter to the casino 11 months after the incident, and the casino manager responded they would never condone any of the staff behavior alleged and apologized for any “frustration or distress.”

After a complaint was formally filed at the tribunal, a settlement offer was presented to Iversen that included $7,000, a letter of apology, a review of Gateway’s policies and updated training for security staff.

When Iversen rejected the settlement, Gateway applied to have the human rights complaint tossed on the grounds that it made a reasonable attempt to settle.

The tribunal ruled that Gateway’s offer intended to “fully address the allegations in the complaint" through policy review and an offer for Iversen to provide feedback as a part of the review.

Iversen was pushing for a hearing and declaration that Gateway’s employees violated the BC Human Rights Code in what they described as a “ground-breaking” case.

The tribunal disagreed and ruled the case is not unique enough to use the tribunal’s scarce resources on when a reasonable settlement offer was made.

“The non-monetary remedies demonstrate that Gateway took the complainants allegations seriously and reflect an intention to avoid future events,” wrote tribunal member Beverly Frose in dismissing the complaint.

Iversen also argued that $7,000 was not adequate compensation, but the tribunal disagreed and said that figure is within the range it could award after a hearing.

Gateway’s settlement offer remained open to Iversen throughout the complaint process and for two weeks after the complaint was dismissed.

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