Women lodge human rights complaint against Bell ExpressVu

Fran Boutilier and Alison Green kicked butt when they went to work for Bell ExpressVu.



The first female senior executives at the satellite TV delivery service, they surpassed the performance of their male predecessors, posted better results, earning shares and praise respectively from Ma Bell’s top boss, Michael Sabia, the two say in court documents.



But one day at an executive retreat, the two women refused to kick or be kicked.

They had to put up with a macho corporate culture that included sexist, vulgar language and being frozen out of drinking sessions with the "boys’ club," they say in the court documents.

But a July 2005 "off-site" retreat, organized around a martial arts theme, was "over the top," Green said in an interview.

Not long after, the two women, separately, earned the dubious distinction of being the company’s first two female VPs to be fired.

Now they hope to kick butt again.

Boutilier and Green, a U.S. attorney by training, lodged a human rights complaint under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms against the federally regulated Bell, and a civil lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court, claiming gender discrimination in the workplace by their former employers.

Today in Toronto, representatives of Bell ExpressVu, including president Gary Smith and vice-president of human resources Greg Wells will appear before a Canadian Human Rights tribunal to give Bell’s side of the case. The tribunal has already heard the women’s side.

Bell flatly denies it discriminates in its senior ranks.

sexist comments

  • Under Smith, executive meetings were run "in a sexist fashion" where men monopolized the conversation, the women say in their court submissions. Male executives were permitted to make "vulgar, sexist and demeaning comments" without consequences, they say.