Human Rights Commission sides with former Dartmouth Leon’s employee in racism complaint

Metro Halifax
Published on April 10, 2014

 Garnetta Cromwell after Day 1 of her hearing in May 2013.                

©Clark Jang - Metro Halifax


The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has ruled in favour of a woman who claimed she was subject to racial discrimination while working at Leon’s.

A Board of Inquiry decision released this week finds that Garnetta Cromwell, who is black, had several experiences of “differential treatment.”

Board chair Kathryn Raymond states in her 73-page decision that Cromwell faced ongoing and excessive discpline for workplace infractions, and was discouraged from applying for management positions.

She was also subjected to teasing and comments that were racially discriminatory.

Raymond found 10 incidents met the test for racial harassment.

“I feel that justice has been done,” states Cromwell in a release from the commission. “The treatment I experienced was dehumanizing and caused me great personal and professional loss.”

The board has ordered Leon’s to pay Cromwell $8,000 in general damages within 30 days. Cromwell has also been awarded 18 months worth of lost earnings, less any income she earned in the 18 months after leaving Leon’s.

Cromwell resigned from the furniture store in Burnside in 2008. Her human rights complaint was heard last fall.

Another former Leon’s employee filed a similar complaint last fall after he said he arrived at the store to find a black statue had been lynched.

Ellsworth Bottomley quit after that incident, and said he’d been subject to co-workers using racial slurs and making derogatory comments about the intelligence of black people.

Leon’s said at the time that two employees were fired over the statue lynching, and the rest had been ordered to undergo sensitivity training.