Nasty Fighting Between Relatives Who Work Together Not a Reprisal Under the OHRC

In Leason v ADAMANDA In o/a Dairy Queen and Grill Huntsville,  2023 HRTO 1652 ( Adjudicator Daud ) the applicant raised a reprisal complaint against her employer.

The manager of the store was the applicant’s first cousin.

The problem seemed to have arisen when the manager’s sister ( not an employee at the time but also the applicants’ cousin) uninvited the applicant to her birthday party, which greatly upset  the applicant.

Thereafter the three cousins ( including the applicant and her manager) engaged in some heated emails and verbal exchanges about this apparently grave injustice done to the applicant.

Query: If you are disinvited to a birthday, do you still have to give a gift?

In denying the reprisal complaint, this is what the adjudicator said :

[66] Michelle Turner also testified that any foul language used between her, and the applicant was only because they were cousins and friendly with each other. The testimony at the hearing confirmed that these three persons (applicant and her two cousins) were not communicating as fellow employees but rather as cousins. The frankness and feud in these communications can only be labelled as bickering among family members and cannot be considered as a poisoned work environment due to the fact that the text messages were not related to work, they and were exchanged outside of work, and the primary reason for this exchange of messages was because the applicant’s cousin was unable to attend the party and the applicant was uninvited from her cousin’s birthday party.


This case illustrates another good reason why not to work with family in a business.

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