J.S. contacted the Retail Action Network shortly after they were fired from Creations Gallery. After a lengthy Employment Standards complaint process, we are not yet satisfied with the results. It took almost 9 months, from the last day that J.S. worked, to finally get paid the wages that were owed.

Help us to share this story, and to introduce policy against harassment and discrimination at Creation’s Gallery so that this doesn’t happen again.

Please read the details here, as told to us by J.S.:

I began working as a salesperson at Creations Gallery over a year ago. I am writing to you because I was fired without cause, had my wages withheld, and feel that I have been discriminated against due to mental health issues.

This complaint is directed at Raj Sharma, curator of Creations Gallery within a Bosa property that shares space with the Empress Hotel.

When I began working for Creations Gallery, the job posting promised $30,000 per year, however, my paycheques were less than this. At times, I worked up to 50 hours a week, but was never paid beyond 40 hours per week.

I was trying to lead a normal, healthy life while juggling feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and depression that I felt from working at Creations Gallery. I was feeling this way because on a daily basis, I was verbally abused and constantly berated.

I was yelled and screamed at and told that I “looked like shit” on a number of occasions.

Raj Sharma had threatened to fire me regularly, and I felt like I was being manipulated and controlled by him. Not only in my work life, but in my personal life as well. I felt threatened with my employment on a number of grounds, including my political beliefs; my physical appearance; and my health.

I was told that I would be terminated for these reasons while I had worked there;

For not wearing makeup or dressing in expensive clothing – I was told on numerous occasions by Raj that I “looked like shit.”

For volunteering with a political party – It was explained that this would distract me from my work at the Gallery.

If I were caught running or jogging for fitness in my spare time – I was told that it would impede my ability to lift heavy objects at work.

For questioning his methods of training me – If I brought up any concerns with what was being taught to me, he would shut it down and tell me I was “ungrateful” and he was “putting so much effort into training me”.

For taking antidepressants for depression or anxiety – Because he didn’t believe it would help me, and he “didn’t believe” that I had depression.

Whenever I brought these issues forward to my employer, I was told that I was not trying hard enough to keep my emotions and anxiety attacks at bay. I became angry and ashamed of myself.

I tried for months to work through these issues. At the end of June, my mental health had deteriorated to the point where I was hospitalized. When I told Raj Sharma that I was going to take anti-depressants to help combat my depression, I was fired: without severance, without cause, and without notice on June 27th, 2016.

I decided to take action; I contacted the Retail Action Network and the Employment Standards Legal Advocacy Project in December 2016.

As a result, I received $3,077 in wages that were stolen from me.

Based on these incidents that have happened, I am writing this letter as a call to action and attention about the injustice that I, and many other workers in this city, are constantly facing. This is so important to me because during my time of need, I felt isolated and manipulated. I felt that I was unable to seek outside support. I am bringing this story forward because I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else that works for Raj Sharma or at Creations Gallery.

I want a public written apology from Raj Sharma and proof that Creations Gallery management has introduced policy against harassment and discrimination.

Please take action on this issue! It is important that we take action, as a community, so that practices like this don’t continue.