Langley lawyer suspended for sexual harassment, racist remarks to workers

A Langley lawyer will be suspended for four and a half months after admitting to professional misconduct that included sexual harassment, racist remarks and creating a hostile work environment.

A hearing panel of the Law Society of B.C. Tribunal decided on July 12 to accept a joint submission from lawyer Rowan MacKenzie Davison and the other parties involved in the case. The decision was published on the law society website last week. 

There were two separate citations against Davison containing five total allegations. Collectively, they alleged that Davison had committed misconduct between 2018 and 2021 by “making unwelcome remarks, engaging in unwanted contact of a sexual nature and making racist or discriminatory remarks to several employees,” according to a statement from the law society.

Among the specific allegations detailed in the decision were two attempts to kiss female subordinates, multiple instances of touching female employees’ clothes, and an instance in which he asked one if she was wearing a bra.

He also referred to himself and others as “round-eyed people,” while speaking to a group that included a person of South Asian descent and told two employees “not to hire any brown people,” according to the decision.

When questioned about this last remark, Davison told the employees “words to the effect that he was ‘tired of the drama brown people bring to the office,'” the decision reads.

In the joint submission, Davison acknowledged that his conduct was wrong. He also submitted that the firm had held a mandatory sensitivity training, appointed a human resources manager and drafted a “policy guide” in response to the complaints about his conduct.

In a partial transcript of an interview between Davison and an investigator from the law society that was included in the joint submission, the lawyer describes his behaviour as “shameful” and says he has changed.

“We did do the sensitivity training and I, I can assure the law society that I’ve done a complete about-face, a 180” the transcript reads. “Please don’t, but you could talk to any staff member and they would have nothing but glowing things to say about me.”

By deciding to accept the joint submission, the panel also agreed to the proposed discipline it contained.

The panel ordered Davison to pay costs of $3,500 to the law society, and to serve a four-and-a-half-month suspension, which will begin on Aug. 16.

Davison is also subject to two conditions once his suspension ends. First, he cannot practice law unless he or the firm for which he works has “a policy in place acceptable to the law society regarding sexual harassment and discriminatory behaviour.”

Second, he or his firm must retain “an external lawyer acceptable to the Law Society whose role it is to receive and investigate any complaints against (him) related to sexual harassment or discriminatory behaviour.” That lawyer will report any substantiated complaints of such conduct to the law society following an investigation.  

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