A woman at a Mississauga, Ontario paper box factory who was fired while undergoing gender reassignment has been awarded $22,000 plus eight months pay by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
The case of Maria VanderPutten and Seydaco Packing Corp. is the first of its kind in Ontario looking at how employers must deal with issues related to transgender employees.
Adjudicator David A. Wright’s decision was released in October 2012, but because both parties were self-represented, the case has not been widely reported.
Wright said that VanderPutten was a more credible witness than those that appeared on behalf of the company. Wright found that Vanderputten was subject to a poisoned work environment and the company contributed to this by insisting she be treated as a man until she completed surgery and requiring she change with men. He also decided the company did not properly investigate her reports of harassment. He awarded Vanderputten $22,000 for injury to her dignity and self-respect.
A month after the hearing in June 2012, but prior to the release of the decision, an Ontario private member’s Bill supported by all parties amended the Ontario Human Rights Code to add “gender expression” and “gender identity” as prohibited grounds for discrimination.