More than 20 former workers and volunteers have filed a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, stating they experienced discrimination by the association’s former general manager.
The complaint says Mike MacSorley was “permitted to poison the work environment for employees and volunteers with his blatant racism, sexism, and threatening demeanour towards women and South Asian people.”
It goes on to say the association looked into MacSorley’s conduct, but “went through the motions,” adding that the investigation was undermined by sexist comments from MacSorley and association leadership.
According to the complaint, MacSorley made comments targeting an employee of South Asian descent.
“On multiple occasions, Mr. MacSorley would direct comments about ‘you people’ or ‘your people’ at the accountant and then sarcastically claim the comments were about ‘accountants not brown people,'” the complaint reads.
The document also alleges MacSorley “refused to interview or hire anyone he believed to have an Indo-Canadian name.”
The complaint also said he harassed a female staff member “incessantly” from 2016 to 2019.
“Every day, Mr. MacSorley would sneak up behind this employee and jab her in the ribs or pull her hair, causing her to jump and injure herself on her desk,” the complaint read. “Mr. MacSorley repeatedly denied this employee’s requests to move her desk or pivot it so that he could not sneak up behind her. On the way out of the washroom, Mr. MacSorley regularly threw large balls of wet paper towel at this woman.”
If any mention of a harassment complaint or concerns were made, the document says, MacSorley often repeated the phrase “harass is two words — her ass.”
The complaint also alleges association president Shannon Claypool made unwelcome sexual advances against female volunteers.
MacSorley left the association earlier this year.
“I didn’t sexually harass anyone, but probably made bad jokes,” MacSorley told Global News on Tuesday, adding, “it’s hard to argue a negative.”
Global News reached out to Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum for comment. The City of Surrey funds the rodeo association to operate the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
A spokesperson for the mayor says “because this file is before the human rights tribunal, the City will not be commenting.”