Claims of South Asian racism, physical abuse levelled at former Cloverdale Rodeo GM

Jul 15 2021, 8:53 am

Bombshell allegations are being directed towards the former GM of the Cloverdale Rodeo, Mike MacSorley.

The allegations include mental and physical abuse of female employees, and racism towards the South Asian community.

A human rights complaint has now been filed on behalf of more than 20 workers and volunteers against the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, which goes to the BC Human Rights Tribunal to determine whether or not the alleged discrimination occurred.

Daily Hive has obtained a copy of the legal document and has spoken with one of the anonymous complainants, who is a prominent figure in the Lower Mainland.

All quoted lines are directly from the legal document.

The claims

The complaint begins by highlighting that the association has no formal policy or training in regards to workplace harassment, which includes no way for employees to report abuse.

“In early 2021 the Association went through the motions of an investigation into Mr.
MacSorely’s conduct. The investigation was undermined by blatantly dismissive and sexist
comments from Mr. MacSorely and from the Association’s Executive Directors. Following the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. MacSorely left the Association. The Association has not apologized or acknowledged the harm caused by the racist and sexist work environment nor has the Association taken any meaningful steps to create a safe work environment.”

The anonymous complainant told Daily Hive that taxpayers are now paying for MacSorley’s severance, after he was allowed to formally resign.

MacSorley became GM of the association sometime around 2014, until earlier this year.

In a request for comment from Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, a Surrey spokesperson responded, “This file is before the Human Rights Tribunal, and the City will not be commenting.”

Anti South Asian racism

The legal complaint also documents alleged instances where MacSorely exhibited racist behaviours.

“If we want to cut down on crime, we have to get rid of the South Asians; they’re all killing each other anyway,” MacSorley is alleged to have told a volunteer.

MacSorley was once a member of the board for the Surrey Crime Prevention Society.

The document also claims he referred to South Asians as “carpet riders.” It also claims that he managed a crew of event workers who he encouraged to make racist remarks about South Asians.

“Hindu food looks like baby diarrhea” and “Indian moms leave diapers everywhere” were among the remarks that were alleged in the claim.

It also alleges MacSorley “refused to interview or hire anyone he believed to have an Indo-Canadian name.”

Misogyny

The document also suggests that Shannon Claypool, who was the association’s president during the time that MacSorley was GM, condoned MacSorley’s activities.

Claypool allegedly routinely used the word “bi*ch” to describe women.

“In or around 2015, Mr. Claypool sent a sexually explicit text message to a volunteer. In or around 2018, Mr. Claypool propositioned a different volunteer during an in-person conversation. Neither of the women complained about the conduct as the Association had no formal harassment policy or complaint mechanism.”

Claypool would also allegedly make jokes about the #MeToo movement.

“On one occasion in approximately 2018, Mr. Claypool commented, ‘Frankly I’d like to get some, me too’ while watching a group of Cloverdale Rodeo attendees dancing. Mr. Claypool made this remark at the event where he could be heard by all staff and volunteers in his vicinity.”

Possibly the most shocking allegation is that of physical abuse towards a female employee.

“For approximately four years, Mr. MacSorely was permitted to continuously physically and
psychologically abuse and harass the only female employee in the Association’s office. Mr.
MacSorely and the other male staff in this office each had private offices with doors,” the claim reads.

“Every day, Mr. MacSorely 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.”

“Mr. MacSorely regularly threw large balls of wet paper towel at this woman. This employee was regularly the target of Mr. MacSorely’s extreme mood shifts. Mr. MacSorely frequently yelled at her, sometimes positioning himself so that his face was about an inch away from her face while yelling at her.”

Repeated warning signs had apparently been brought to the board’s attention but were routinely dismissed.

Failure to respond

The association behind the Cloverdale Rodeo made no attempt to rectify any signs of abuse or harassment, according to the complainant.

“On multiple occasions, concerns were expressed to the Association’s president, Mr. Claypool. On each occasion, Mr. Claypool failed to address the concerns. Instead, Mr. Claypool repeatedly stated, ‘If you make me pick between Mike and you, I’ll pick Mike every
time.’ Mr. Claypool emphatically supported Mr. MacSorely at every instance where concerns were raised.”

The executive directors for the association and board ignored letters from former staff until it was brought to the City of Surrey’s attention, it claims. That’s when they chose to hire an external investigator.

“Mr. Claypool remarked to a number of people that the investigation was only necessary ‘because of a group of menopausal women’ and continued to call the investigation a ‘witch hunt.'”

The document, which was submitted by Barrister and Solicitor Rachel H. Roy, with Allevato Quail & Roy is legally seeking the following:

  • a declaration that the Association breached section 13(1) of the Code by creating a
    poisoned work environment;
  •  a declaration that the Association breached section 13(1) of the Code by repeatedly
    failing to appropriately respond to harassment;
  • an order that the Association cease and desist this breach;
  • an order that the Association provide harassment and discrimination training for all
    management personnel;
  • an order that the Association create a meaningful anti-harassment policy and
    effective complaint mechanism;
  • damages for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect for each group member;
  • any such other order as the Tribunal deems appropriate.

Daily Hive has reached out to Mike MacSorley for further comment.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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