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N.B. Xerox employee who claimed he was paid less because he’s Black vindicated by commission

Four years after filing a complaint that he was paid less than his co-workers at Xerox because he's Black, Normand Hector says he feels validated.

Human rights commission says Normand Hector has 'arguable case' of racism

A man with thick, dark-rimmed glasses looks at the camera while typing on a computer laptop.

Four years after filing a complaint that he was paid less than his co-workers at Xerox because he's Black, Normand Hector says he feels validated.

The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission said it has found sufficient information "to establish an arguable case of race and colour discrimination" against Hector's former employer, Xerox Canada.

As as result, the commission has recommended an inquiry "by referring the matter to the Labour and Employment Board."

"They believed me," said a relieved Hector. "Everything that I had claimed and everything that I had gathered and everything that I had submitted, they believed me. And I think that is such a nice feeling when somebody believes you."

He's also relieved that his case will move on to the Labour and Employment Board, although no date has been set for the hearing, nor for any pre-hearing meetings, said Lise Landry, the board's chief executive officer.

"It is now going to move forward," said Hector. "And I think that's the biggest thing that resonates with me — believing me is one thing, but knowing that it's going to move forward is huge. Huge."

WATCH | 'It's cost me a lot':

‘They believed me’: N.B. human rights complaint upheld

4 hours ago

Duration 4:57

Four years after filing a complaint that he was paid $10,000 less per year by Xerox Canada because he was Black, Normand Hector feels vindicated after receiving his final report from the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.

Xerox Canada was asked to provide an interview, but the company declined. In an emailed statement, spokesperson Justin Capella said, "Xerox is committed to upholding the highest diversity, equity and inclusion standards, however as standard practice we do not comment on pending litigation matters."

The report from the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission examined Hector's 20-year career with Xerox, including his performance reviews and salary as compared to other sales managers.

According to company documents, he was making about $10,000 less than other managers.

In an email dated Aug. 13, 2019, Hector's manager, Tammy Mehan, wrote to someone in human resources asking, "Would you be able to do an equity assessment for Normand Hector. He is on my management team and we are at risk of losing him due to base salary. Based on the information I have he is much lower than any of my managers about 10k."

According to the commission's report, Mehan also noted "that he was an entry-level manager who was managing an entry-level team, and he was being compared to managers who had been in management positions for several years, so it was appropriate that he would be paid less than these other managers with more tenure."

The report also states, "The Respondent maintains that race was never a factor for either the Respondent or the Complainant. They maintain that all of the Complainant's salary requests were taken seriously and managed without regard to his race, that the Complainant was successful in securing significant salary increases until he became too aggressive in August 2019, and that the Complainant's own insubordinate behaviour and attitude prevented him from achieving a raise before a final determination had been made."

'It's cost me a lot'

Although vindicated in the end, Hector is saddened by having to file a complaint in the first place.

"That's a piece that really hits me hard. The people that you think will have your back don't have your back," he said.

"I thought many people would have spoke up for me and said, 'You know what, he is right. He shouldn't have to go through this.'"

Hector said the process has cost him a lot.

"I changed my job. I left that job because I wasn't being paid fairly. … I questioned myself," he said.

"You know how you have that little voice inside your head that says, 'You know, you shouldn't have done this. You should have stayed put. You should have stayed and kept your mouth shut because you would still be there today if you had just kept your mouth shut.'"

But Hector said he knew he had to leave.

"Am I happy that I did it? Happy's not the right word. I'm satisfied that I stayed strong and stayed within my own truth, but I'm not happy because who's happy that they have to leave a job because they don't feel they're being paid equally? Nobody is."

Hector has a warning to others considering embarking on the same path he took when he resigned in August 2019 and filed his complaint on June 11, 2020.

"Understand that people aren't going to stand with you when you go through this. They're going to turn their back on you. You're going to lose friends. You're going to walk into a grocery store, and people are going to go the opposite way. And you have to be willing to accept that people aren't going to speak to you that normally would speak to you."

He said the process has been painful.

"And it's probably gonna hurt for the rest of my days because I loved that company I worked for."

His hope is that his story will resonate with others — and other companies. He hopes other companies will have the courage to sit down with employees who aren't happy — and not just those of colour.

"This is for everybody … that doesn't feel that they are being treated fairly or being paid equally. This is for everybody, so let's just take the colour out of it."

With files from Rachel Cave

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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