Resort CEO suspended after making sexist IWD joke

The CEO of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in south-eastern British Colombia (B.C), is currently suspended from work due to a sexist joke he made at a B.C Tourism and Hospitality Conference (TIABC) on 9 March.

The CEO, Vivek Sharma, also previously faced complaints about an alleged rape comment he made when working at his previous job at Sun Peaks Grand Hotel, according to CBC.

Sharma’s suspension was a result of him suggesting that women in the audience at TIABC “go clean some rooms and do some dishes,” leaving many in the audience shocked.

This followed Sharma asking the women in the audience to stand in honour of International Women’s Day, which was the day before.

He is now the subject of a third-party review.

However, this did not come as a surprise to Mel Bahula, who previously worked with Sharma at Sun Peaks where Sharma previously worked as general manager.

Bahula is one of three former employees at the hotel to come forward and express concerns about Sharma’s behaviour during a town hall staff meeting in January 2016.

“Vivek was trying to basically motivate the staff after a very long and hard Christmas season,” Bahula told the CBC.

“He said to us, ‘Well, sometimes you get raped. You just need to lay down, take it and enjoy it.’ The whole room, of course, gasped.”

Bahula emailed the Sun Peaks Resort vice-president, Darcy Alexander, to ask how management would respond.

Another employee also contacted Alexander to address Sharma’s alleged “tasteless, inappropriate, unprofessional, insensitive, and downright disgusting” remarks, according to emails shared with the CBC.

Alexander said that Sharma has a history of saying distasteful things.

“We have recently learned of Mr Sharma’s inappropriate and disrespectful comments at the TIABC conference, and are very aware of some of his unacceptable comments in the past,” Alexander said.

Bahula reportedly requested an apology from management multiple times, but nothing happened and asked Alexander to sit down with a group of employees who felt “uncomfortable, substandard and embarrassed” due to Sharma’s remarks.

Alexander said that he could not provide details about how the hotel responded to complaints about Sharma’s behaviour due to privacy laws but added that the resort holds “zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment” alongside training and policies to meet that standard.

“To the extent that there were historic complaints about any employee, including Mr Sharma, those would have been handled in accordance with our policies. If, after an investigation, Sun Peaks determined that discrimination or harassment had occurred, we would have taken immediate corrective action,” Alexander said.

The Fairmont Hot Springs Resort has released few details about the third-party review it is conducting.

Featured image: Vivek Sharma (LinkedIn/Vivek Sharma)