STELLARTON - A Pictou County woman’s human rights case against the Nova Scotia Liqour Corporation resumed Friday with the woman’s former boss testifying about her work performance.
Craig Sutherland, former senior vice-president of merchandising and operations for the NSLC, told the board of inquiry that he met with the complainant, Pearl Kelly, more than once to review her performance appraisals and pointed out areas that could be improved.
He said there were some concerns raised about her ability to lead staff in a larger store like New Glasgow. Some of the areas of concern involved merchandising and ensuring staff was working in the proper positions.
“We try to get stores to a point so they have coverage on the floors,” he said. “There were concerns from a coverage standpoint that no one was present on the floor.”
Kelly filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that she was discriminated against by her employer, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, on the basis of gender and disability.
In earlier testimony, Kelly’s lawyer Barry Mason said his client heard sexist comments regarding her being pregnant and going on maternity leave during her time with the NSLC from co-workers and a supervisor. He said she was treated unfairly as a female manager within the corporation compared to male managers at other stores, including the fact that she only had an assistant manager for 26 weeks out of the 250 weeks that she worked as a manager in the class four category, the category for the largest stores within the liquor corporation, while male managers of equal status received “better treatment.”
He said she was referred to, because she has three children, and was on maternity leave for a period while at the NSLC, as ‘Pregnant Pearl’ in Pictou, He told the board Kelly was discriminated against on the basis of gender because she was not offered an interview for the regional manager position, which a man received.
Sutherland said his initial meetings with Kelly were positive and he pointed out areas that she could work on, but as time progressed, she became more emotional during other meetings and didn’t seem to understand what he was trying to get her to do.
He denied that she was never interviewed for the regional manager’s job because of her gender or any kind of discrimination. Sutherland said Kelly never mentioned to him that she was upset over not getting an interview for the regional position or being denied a transfer to the Antigonish store.
He said NSLC’s decisions were based on her performance evaluation.
“Improvements needed to be made in her store,” he said. “No discrimination references were ever brought up.”
Under cross-examination, Sutherland said he never received any formal complaints about Kelly from her co-workers, but he also pointed out that employees and management don’t always have the same vision when it comes to the direction that a business is trying to take.