(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

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

Best of the City: Cannabis store’s customer service impresses

Mood Cannabis Co. finishes second for Best Customer Service in reader survey

Best of the City: Live-streaming in quarantine

Arts and entertainment community resilient in the face of a pandemic

Tour de Rock arrives in Nanaimo, now it’s off to the next station

Cops for Cancer team completes Nanaimo section of Vancouver Island cycle relay

Best of the City: Burger joint is tops in Nanaimo

Newly opened Top Notch Burgers Grill and Lounge voted Best Hamburgers

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out stand on Norcross Road

B.C. VOTES 2020: B.C. Liberals vow to eliminate sales tax for a year

From 7% to zero, then back in at 3% to stimulate economy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Best of the City: This year’s winners

Nanaimo News Bulletin presents full results of our 2020 Best of the City readers’ survey

Most Read