A woman accusing her former employer of racial discrimination says a lynching comment was “the last straw.”
Garnetta Cromwell testified Tuesday before the province’s Human Rights Commission. Her complaint is filed against Leon’s Furniture Store, her employer from October 2004 to May 2008.
Cromwell, an African-Canadian, alleged the word “lynching” was used before she went to a performance review meeting at the beginning of May 2008. She said four supervisors were in the office inside its Burnside location when one of them made a discriminatory comment.
“As I was coming to the office he said, ‘Everyone out, it’s time for a lynching,’” she testified Tuesday. “I was speechless.”
Cromwell resigned from Leon’s three weeks later, and filed her complaint with the commission at the end of the month.
Cromwell also alleged she was called racial names during her tenure at Leon’s, including Condoleezza Rice, Contessa and “sunshine,” a derogatory word her mother told her meant “you’re so black that it shines,” she said.
In another instance, Cromwell testified a supervisor touched her hair and said, “it felt like wool.”
During her testimony, Cromwell welled up with tears as she described the anxiety disorder she developed from the discriminations she faced.
“Everything was falling, crashing down on me,” she said.
An independent adjudicator for the commission will determine whether or not discrimination occurred.
Lisa Teryl, counsel for the commission, told reporters discrimination doesn’t need to be the main factor in determining an employment disadvantage under the Human Rights Act.
“If any part of that disadvantage is connected to race, it contaminates everything, and so we find that’s discrimination,” said Teryl.
Cromwell is seeking loss of income and general damages from Leon’s Furniture.
The hearing will resume Thursday morning.
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