(File photo) A man who alleged discrimination by a White Rock yoga studio has had his complaint dismissed by the BC Human Rights Tribunal

Tribunal rejects B.C. man’s claim he was banned from yoga studio due to sex addiction

Human Rights Tribunal rules ‘no reasonable prospect’ that Erik Rutherford’s complaint would be proven

A man who alleged that disclosure of his sex addiction led to him eventually being barred from a White Rock yoga studio has had his complaint dismissed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

According to a decision released by the tribunal on Aug. 23, there “is no reasonable prospect” that facts brought forward by Erik Rutherford against Westcoast Hot Yoga will be proven at a hearing.

According to Rutherford, the alleged discrimination began after he told a staff member he was “seeking help with sex addiction.”

Westcoast had countered that the steps against Rutherford were taken as a result of “harassing behaviour that was rendering staff and other clients uncomfortable.”

Tribunal member Emily Ohler found that, “While the timing could weigh in favour of Mr. Rutherford’s assertion that his disclosure of his mental disability factored into the treatment he received, there is nothing in the materials that could support a finding that Mr. Rutherford’s mental disability was a factor in the behaviour Westcoast points to as informing its decision to bar him.

“Rather, it is reasonably certain the Respondent would establish its non-discriminatory explanation of having chosen to ask Mr. Rutherford to practice elsewhere because of his ‘constant harassing by text, email and phone to teachers and the studio’ with his allegations of gossip and his upset over the Coach not accepting him as a client at her business – behaviours that were causing conflict and discomfort for staff and clients.”

At the time of the complaint to the tribunal, Rutherford had been a client of Westcoast for about eight years, the reasons state.

Ohler notes that Rutherford filed a complaint in June 2018 with the Better Business Bureau, after a Westcoast employee who has her own personal-coaching business outside of the yoga studio declined to accept him as a client once he told her he was looking for help with sex addiction.

The employee said it was not her field of expertise, the reasons state.

In the BBB complaint, “Mr. Rutherford says that the Coach ‘denied the writer help with depression, adjustment disorder and help with relationships,’” the reasons state.

“She told the owner instead of offering help.

“Westcoast says this was when things escalated.”

Rutherford admitted, the reasons note, that he contacted the employee “partly due to my mental disability as she is an attractive healthy woman.”

In his complaint to the tribunal, Rutherford said he felt comfortable speaking freely about his personal life because he was a long-standing client, and disclosed his previous struggles with addiction to staff “at some point in 2017.”

“He says that after this, staff began to be less friendly to him and alleges they were looking at him differently and gossiping about him.”

ALSO READ: B.C. woman files human rights complaint alleging racial discrimination by former boss

He also complained that he was no longer permitted to purchase a five-class package that he had “routinely” purchased previously.

Rutherford further alleged that a Westcoast staff member who he ran into at a coffee shop in February 2018 said to him “we don’t think you’re that healthy mentally.”

He spoke with the studio owner around March 25, 2018, to “try to resolve the changes in his interactions with Westcoast.”

“He says he explained that addictions and depression are common among professionals, and that practicing yoga helped him recover from his prior addictions to alcohol and pornography and he was now nine-years sober,” the reasons state.

Westcoast officials told the tribunal that Rutherford’s mental health “had nothing to do with any of its actions.”

“Rather, the problem was that after the Coach declined to accept him as a client of her business, Mr. Rutherford began phoning, texting and emailing Westcoast staff at all hours, making staff and some clients uncomfortable. It says it asked Mr. Rutherford to stop but he did not.”

Westcoast “asserts that the reason he was ultimately asked to practice yoga elsewhere was when he failed to ‘stop harassing us with emails and false accusations against teachers.’”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson and RDCK both eyeing waste wood to produce energy

Nelson’s five-year-old business plan will resurface at council table this summer

Two overdose deaths in Nelson over the weekend

Police warn that much of the current drug supply in the city may be dangerous

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

Police narrow down timeline in death of woman in West Kootenay

West Kootenay Traffic Services and BC Coroners Service working on the case

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read