Racist abuse at work entitles victim to get workers' compensation, judge rules

Amadou Gaye

A Montreal-area man who says he was the victim of daily racist abuse from co-workers is now entitled to worker's compensation for that abuse.

Last month, a judge equated the effects of that abuse on Amadou Gaye's health and well-being, to those stemming from a work accident.

Gaye, a Senegalese immigrant, told La Presse that he suffered months of constant racist abuse from co-workers at Iron Mountain, a Laval-based records management company. By the end of 2016, he said, he started suffering from headaches, heart palpitations and insomnia. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, telling the online news outlet that he was living in a constant state of fear.

He told La Presse that one co-worker used the n-word on him constantly, threatened to whip him and compared him to a monkey. At one point, the tormenter was caught on video imitating a monkey and dropping his pants. He says he would often find himself crying alone in a corner, because he didn't want to show any weakness.

Initially, the worker's health and safety board, the CNESST, turned down Gaye's request to have his condition recognized, but on Dec. 13, judge Annie Beaudin with the workers' administrative tribunal overturned that decision.

In a statement sent to La Presse, Iron Mountain says it's "determined to maintain a work environment that reflects out fundamental values of diversity and inclusion," and adds "We will not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we take the slightest allegation of inappropriate or hostile conduct towards our employees very seriously."