Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit facing sexual harassment allegations

Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit facing sexual harassment allegations

WATCH: A Duncan woman has filed a human rights complaint, alleging she faced repeated bullying and sexual harassment while working at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit. Tess van Straaten reports.

The Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit is a Canadian first ? an exclusive playground for high-rollers to race some of the most expensive cars you can imagine.

But disturbing allegations are emerging from the Cowichan track.

“There was one instance in the lunch room where he told all the guys in explicit, lewd detail what he would do to me sexually if given the opportunity,” says former employee Charleen Smith.

Smith says she endured repeated bullying and sexual harassment from a man she dealt with during the nine months she worked there.

The former on-site paramedic and concierge filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, in which she alleges he “Is constantly…hanging around my desk, luring at me and staring at my body parts.”

Smith also wrote that “He put his hand on my back and pushed me hard, into my desk and held me there,” and “I was feeling very uncomfortable, scared, confused and didn’t understand why he was aggressively pushing me around and why he felt he could put his hands on me!”

For legal reasons, CHEK can’t disclose the name of the man Smith filed the human rights complaint against, as the complaint hasn’t yet been made public.

Smith says the alleged treatment started to make her physically sick, and she went on a doctor-approved stress leave last year.

“It erodes away at your self worth over time,” Smith says. “It started affecting me physically, nauseous, having stomach aches, headaches, I started dreading going into work.”

Smith complained to the GAIN Group, a network of luxury auto dealerships that own the track.

But she claims they didn’t take any action until months later, after she filed a complaint with WorkSafe BC which meant an investigation was mandatory.

The internal investigation determined “…bullying and harassment did occur at the workplace” and impacted several employees.

The GAIN Auto Group management didn’t reply to numerous requests for an interview, but in their tribunal response they say the behaviour “Occurred without the knowledge and consent” of track officials.

The employee in question was removed from the track, but still works for the company, and that’s one of the reasons Smith is speaking out.

“They told me I couldn’t talk about it so it just made it worse,” says Smith. “I felt like I was keeping their dirty little secret and I hadn’t done anything wrong.”

A hearing date has tentatively been set for next September.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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