Non-binary server in B.C. awarded 30K for being unfairly fired

October 2021 – There is an article on the CBC news site about Jessie Nelson, a server in Gibsons, B.C., who was awarded $30K by the B.C. Human Rights Commission for being fired after asking to be addressed by their correct pronouns. While it’s undoubtedly a decision supporting non-binary people, the text of the article suggests non-binary people have some work to do to be taken seriously.

The Commission found that the managers at the restaurant in Gibsons, B.C. “seemed committed to providing an inclusive workplace” but that “their response to Nelson’s complaints lacked any sense of urgency.” While some co-employees respected their pronouns, one bar manager in particular was so flippantly derisive that the relationship between Nelson and the manager became increasingly hostile. The Commission found Nelson was “terminated because of ‘how they responded to discrimination’ from their employer” and the bar manager. In other words, the bar owners felt Nelson was being too pushy about their pronouns.

It’s undoubtedly the right decision. The restaurant owners could have fired the bar manager, but instead blamed Nelson for not working with the team. It’s ultimately a question of respect, but the whole sad story shows that many cisgender people do not take non-binary people seriously. I’m sure that many reading the story would be outraged by the decision for the same reason.